County still on track to beat $31-million record set for 2021 fiscal year
For the first time this fiscal year, Sarasota County’s Tourist Development Tax — or, “bed tax” — revenue is down month-over-month. And that month is May.
The latest reports from Sarasota County Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates and her staff show the collections for May were $31,402.28 lower than the figure for May 2021.
The total revenue for May was $2,856,950.32, the reports note. That marked a drop of close to 1.1% from the May 2021 figure of $2,888,352.60.
Nonetheless, the total Tourist Development Tax (TDT) collections from Oct. 1, 2021 through May still put the county in a position to beat the record that the funds set last fiscal year.
With four months left to go in this fiscal year, the funds add up to $29,715,619.63, Ford-Coates’ reports show. Altogether, the county received $31,056,760.77 in TDT revenue in the 2021 fiscal year.
Through the first eight months of the 2021 fiscal year, the total Ford-Coates’ staff reported at that time was $20,981,332.14. Thus, the total through May of this fiscal year is almost 42% higher than the total generated through May last fiscal year.
The “bed tax” revenue comes from a 5% tax charged on accommodations rented for six months or less time. With the approval of the County Commission earlier this year, the tax will rise to 6% as of Oct. 1.
Among other factors of note in the new reports, the differences between the FY 2021 and FY 2022 collections for February, March and April climbed even more. As Ford-Coates and her staff point out, audits and other enforcement actions can lead to changes in the numbers from one report to the next.
The previous report put the month-over-month uptick for February at $1,670,872.48. The new data raise that to $1,673,102.56.
For March, the month-over-month increase previously reported was $1,416,890.60. The latest data put the difference at $1,424,133.69.
Finally, the month-over-month uptick for April in the earlier report was listed as $846,651.72. The latest data say the difference is $855,997.17.
On the flip side of those changes, the new data show that the month-over-month total for November 2021 actually is lower than reported the previous month. Instead of $960,523.10, it is $960,453.02.
On the positive side again: The TDT revenue collected by Airbnb hosts through May of this fiscal year adds up to $3,466,629.36. For the same period of the 2021 fiscal year, the Airbnb total was $2,727,759.87. Thus, the FY 2022 figure is up 27%, compared to the FY 2021 total.
Additionally, the revenue generated by all of the online tourist accommodation platforms with which the county has TDT collections contracts makes up 19.03% of the total through May.
Along with Airbnb, TripAdvisor and HomeAway — and all of their subsidiaries — must turn over the bed tax money that their hosts collect.
And speaking of those percentages: The City of Sarasota continues to lead Siesta Key in the amount of TDT revenue generated for this fiscal year. The city’s percentage through May is 27.72%. For the Key, it is 25.33%. Typically, by the end of the fiscal year, Siesta Key bests the city.
Virginia Haley, president of the county’s tourism office — Visit Sarasota County — also provides a monthly update to local government leaders in regard to tourism data that a Tallahassee firm — Downs & St. Germain Research — collects for her staff.
In her report for May, Haley noted the following:
- “We had 142,800 visitors [in May of this year], a drop of 7.9%,” compared to the May 2021 count.
- Visitors’ total economic impact in May was $248,445,100, an increase of 2.3%, compared to the May 2021 figure.
- Lodging occupancy in May was 72.9%, a drop of 6.5%, compared to the figure for May 2021.
- The average room rate for lodging was $239.32, an increase of 12.1%, compared to the rate for May 2021.
- The number of room nights sold was 282,500, an increase of 1.6%, compared to the May 2021 total.