Visit Sarasota County report also cites larger number of visitors that month, year-over-year, and uptick in their spending
In April, Tourist Development Tax (TDT) collections surpassed the figure for the same month in 2016 and also marked the second consecutive month of year-over-year increases for the county’s “bed tax” revenue, the Sarasota County Tax Collector’s Office has reported.
The April figure was $2,067,968.20, as of May 31, the Tax Collector’s Office report says. That represents an increase of $241,275.53 over the April 2016 total of $1,826,692.67. It also is the highest figure for a single month so far this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, 2016.
The final number for this April could change, however, after audits refine the data provided to the Tax Collector’s Office, Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates and her staff have explained.
The latest data show the March TDT collections resulted in a total of $3,489,500.60, an increase of $99,801.03 compared to the March 2016 figure. That March figure was revised from the $3,387,789.21 reported by the Tax Collector’s Office at the end of April.
The February figure also has shown considerable improvement after refinement of the data, the latest report shows. The number the Tax Collector’s Office reported at the end of April showed that February collections were down $38,813.80 compared to the number for February 2016. However, the May 31 report has revised that to a decline of $8,850.30 year-over-year for February.
Thus far this fiscal year, the Tax Collector’s Office report says, TDT collections are up $239,518.77 compared to the same seven months of the 2016 fiscal year. Last year, the county set a record for TDT revenue, surpassing the $20-million mark for the first time.
Through the end of May, entities that collect the tax on Siesta Key beat all other locations in the figure they reported to the Tax Collector’s Office, accounting for 32.47% of the total. The city of Sarasota remained in second place, with 29.63%, while the city of North Port continued to have the lowest portion of the collections: 0.32%.
The latest data from the Tax Collector’s Office is supported by the research undertaken for April on behalf of the county’s tourism office — Visit Sarasota County. The number of visitors this April was up 3.8% compared to the figure for the same month in 2016, the Visit Sarasota County data show, and the tourists this April increased their spending 3.9% year-over-year.
Room occupancy was 2.7% higher for April this year than it was in April 2016, the figures show, and the average daily room rate was up 3.6%. Therefore, the revenue per available room climbed by 6.5% year-over-year, the report says.
Sarasota County experienced an increase in the number of visitors from Florida and the Southeast in April, the report continues, “while international visitation remained flat.”
The report also notes that the optimism of property owners and general managers regarding county tourism for the next few months “is down slightly from last year.”
On a positive note, however, the Visit Sarasota County research shows that 82% of the April visitors said they would recommend Sarasota County to other people as a destination, and 93% of the people surveyed reported they were “very satisfied with their visits.”