‘Bed tax’ up more than $485,000 in October, compared to collections in October 2021

Rentals of accommodations through online platforms account for nearly 37% of October revenue

The start of the 2023 fiscal year has proven a good one for Sarasota County’s Tourist Development Tax — or, “bed tax” — revenue, as shown in the latest reports from Sarasota County Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates and her staff.

October saw a month-over-month increase of $485,351.86, the data show. In October 2021, the total amount of Tourist Development Tax (TDT) revenue turned over to the Tax Collector’s office was $2,032,704.20. This October, the figure was $2,518,056.06, the reports note.

Nonetheless, that uptick paled in comparison to the month-over-month jump in TDT funds from October 2020 to October 2021. Ford-Coates and her staff reported that entities that collect the tax turned over $726,922.09 more in October 2021 than they did in October 2020.

Yet, in October 2020, many individuals still were taking stronger precautions against COVID-19, as vaccines were not available to the general public.

Among other information in the latest reports from Ford-Coates and her staff, the TDT revenue for October from property owners who use the online rental platform Airbnb added up to $721,715.27. That was more than double the amount that the Tax Collector’s Office received from those Airbnb hosts in October 2021: $345,813.10.

Additionally, the new data show that rentals of accommodations through all online platforms with which the county has collections contracts — including HomeAway and TripAdvisor and their subsidiaries — accounted for 36.78% of the TDT revenue in October. The total was $926,086.45, Ford-Coates and her staff reported.

In October 2021, the revenue from the hosts of units rented through the online platforms added up to $467,525.43, as the Tax Collector’s Office noted at that time.

Further, the online platforms accounted for only 23.67% of the total TDT revenue in October 2021.

The latest report on collections by location in the county shows the City of Sarasota in second place behind the online platforms, with 21%. Siesta Key is in third place, with 20.06% of the total.

For the 2022 fiscal year, the county set another record with its Tourist Development Tax revenue. Ford-Coates and her staff took in $40,284,835.17. In the 2021 fiscal year, the final amount was $31,057,999.18.

The tax — which went from 5% to 6% on Oct. 1 — is charged on rentals of accommodations for six months or less time. The revenue is used for a variety of purposes, including beach maintenance and the upkeep of the two Major League Baseball Spring Training stadiums in the county — Ed Smith Stadium, where the Baltimore Orioles train, in Sarasota; and CoolToday Park in Wellen Park, outside Venice and North Port, where the Atlanta Braves conduct Spring Training.

Among other data in the latest reports, Ford-Coates and her staff have used enforcement actions and audits to refine the amounts they reported in prior months.

For example, the total collections for September were put at $1,743,192.25 in the latest reports. Last month, the figure for September was $1,734,866.01.

Altogether, the TDT revenue for the 2022 fiscal year added up to $40,273,993.36 in last month’s reports. As noted above, the total has climbed since then, even though the difference is slightly less than 0.03%.

Along with the data from Ford-Coates and her staff, Visit Sarasota County — the county’s tourism office — issues its own report each month. Visit Sarasota County uses a Tallahassee firm, Downs & St. Germain Research, to provide specific statistics.

The October report from Downs & St. Germain found the following, which Erin Duggan, vice president of Visit Sarasota County, provided to The Sarasota News Leader:

  • There were 134,300 visitors in paid lodging in October 2022, an increase of 15.2%, compared to the number for October 2021.
  • Direct visitor spending was $125,720,900, an increase of 3.5%, compared to the figure for October 2021.
  • Lodging occupancy was 80.6%, a jump of 34.1%, compared to the level reported in October 2021.
  • The average room rate for lodging in October was $215.39, an uptick of 17.7%, compared to the figure for October 2021.
  • The number of lodging room nights sold was 312,300, a 33.2% hike, compared to the total for October 2021.

“It was a unusual month with so many folks staying in accommodations in our area to aid in Hurricane Ian recovery,” Duggan wrote. “(So longer stays, but not necessarily more spending as they weren’t in our area during the day visiting attractions/restaurants, etc. …),” she added.