The numbers are in, and Sarasota’s tourism industry is looking good.
Sarasota saw another year of growth this year in both the total number of visitors to the county and the dollars those tourists spent, continuing a years long trend in growth in the area’s tourism industry that has brought in valuable tax revenue.
According to Visit Sarasota County (VSC), Sarasota County had 740,300 visitors in fiscal year 2013, spending $640,974,200 in the area economy. That is a 5.8% jump in visitors from fiscal year 2012 and a 10.2% increase in direct spending.
“Our visitors are up, our business is up. Things are looking good,” said Cheryl Gaddie, president of the Siesta Key Village Association. “What a difference from three years ago.”
The 2013 fiscal year ended June 30. Data from the Sarasota County Tax Collector also paints a positive picture for the area tourism industry.
With three months of revenue left to be calculated for 2013, Sarasota County has already raised $12,179,818 in revenue from the Tourist Development Tax — eclipsing the total revenue reported for 2011. This comes after multiple years of increased revenues from the tax. Development Tax revenue grew by 16% in 2011, and by 17.5% in 2012.
The Tourist Development Tax is a 5% charge on the revenue from rentals of six months or less. Revenue from the tax is used for tourism promotion, maintenance and renourishment of beach park facilities and beaches, sports stadiums, nature center facilities and promoting new tourist attractions and events.
Projects like the proposed dredging of Big Pass also rely on Development Tax revenue.
“It just keeps getting better and better,” said Chris Brown, owner of the Beach Club in Siesta Key Village, referring to tourism-related business. “We’ve seen steady, stable growth for a few years now. People are really starting to take notice.”
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