Tourism hits records as Tampa Bay area rebounds from pandemic

Every time someone stays at a hotel, 6% of the bill goes right back into the local economy, and the revenue from that tax broke records in March, according to St. Pete-Clearwater.

"Our recovery has been astounding," said Leroy Bridges from Visit St. Pete-Clearwater. "We heard from a lot of hoteliers, attractions, our industry partners during March and April that it was the busiest they've ever seen this destination, and our latest bed tax numbers confirm that's the case."

Bed tax revenue in March reached nearly $9.7 million in Pinellas County. That’s $100,000 more than Visit St. Pete-Clearwater’s previous record-breaking month in 2019.

"If bed tax is strong and healthy, visitation is strong and healthy and when you have the best month the destination has ever seen, it's quite remarkable," Bridges said.

Similar success was felt in Hillsborough County as well.

"We're doing it without international visitation, we're doing it with conventions being about 50% in-person, and we're just killing it, we're 10% off the 2019 number," said Santiago Corrada, the CEO of Visit Tampa Bay.

2019 tourism numbers still hold the record in Hillsborough County, but this past March narrowed in very closely, and with 2,000 more hotel rooms in the county now, compared to 2019, Visit Tampa Bay anticipates more record-breaking numbers as we get into the second half of 2021.

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A big reason for that is because of conventions. Seventeen were rescheduled or relocated to Tampa; bringing in about $39 million by the end of the year.

"We've got groups relocating from Puerto Rico, Washington D.C., Chicago, Nevada, New York, we've got groups coming to us from Philadelphia," Corrada said.

Hotel occupancy in Hillsborough County is hitting 80 to 90% on Friday and Saturday nights. Corrada says that consistency is much higher compared to previous years.


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