Tourist Development Tax revenue breaks another fiscal year record in Sarasota County

Total was more than $21 million

Diners enjoy the ambience at The Hub Baja Grill on Siesta Key in early November. Rachel Hackney photo

Once again, Sarasota County has broken a record for Tourist Development Tax (TDT) revenue, based on the latest figures released by the Sarasota County Tax Collector’s Office.

Through Sept. 30 — the end of the 2017 fiscal year — entities that collect the “bed tax” had reported a total of $21,257,596.35 to the Tax Collector’s Office, surpassing the record $20,114,542.54 brought in during the 2016 fiscal year. That means the TDT revenue for the 2017 fiscal year was higher by $1,143,053.81, compared to the final number for FY16.

Revenue increased $187,672.12 year-over-year in September, the figures show.

The World Rowing Championships at Nathan Benderson Park in late September “had a significant positive effect on our September tourism figures,” Visit Sarasota County President Virginia Haley wrote in an Oct. 26 email to county leaders. “It was the best September on record in terms of hotel occupancy, room rate, number of visitors and their spending,” Haley added.

The county also collected $310,755.25 in TDT revenue from Airbnb hosts since May 1, when an agreement the County Commission approved with the internet-based accommodations firm went into effect.

Spending by visitors in September was up by 20.7%, to $55 million, and the number of visitors in paid lodging grew by 20.2% to 79,900, compared to the figure for September 2016, Haley pointed out. September’s hotel occupancy grew by 10.7%, to 61.9%, compared to the figure for September 2016, she noted, and the room rates grew by 3.1%, to $135.63.

“The strong September helped us exceed our goal for visitors for Fiscal Year 2017,” Haley wrote in her email. The number of visitors for the fiscal year rose by 4.2%, to 1,216,580 in paid lodging, she continued, and their direct expenditures for the fiscal year grew by 6%, to $1,097,933,900, compared to the figure reported for the 2016 fiscal year.

Figures compiled through Oct. 31 show another banner year for Tourist Development Tax revenue collections in Sarasota County. Image courtesy Tax Collector’s Office

Only three months in the 2017 fiscal year showed declines in TDT revenue, compared to the same months in the previous fiscal year, the Tax Collector’s Office report shows. Those months were December, January and February.

Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates has pointed out to members of the county’s Tourist Development Council that figures can change even months after tax collecting-entities have provided them to her office, as audits often lead to revisions.

In fact, in the latest report Ford-Coates’ staff posted online, the increase year-over-year for July had risen to $164,937.62; the number was $157,125.12 in the data compiled through Aug. 31.

Conversely, the amount of drop year-over-year for January rose to $148,123.10 in the latest report, compared to the figure of $147,718.15 in the data as of Aug. 31.

April remains the month with the highest climb year-over-year. The latest figure puts TDT revenue for April at $2,108,586.77, compared to $1,826,829.25 in April 2016. Thus, accommodations reported $281,757.52 more in April of this year.

The month that saw the best revenue total in the 2017 fiscal year was March, with $3,525,362.39, the latest report says. That compares to $3,394,871.57 in March 2016.

Siesta Key accommodations once again account for the largest portion of TDT revenue collected by location in the county. Image courtesy Tax Collector’s Office

Once again, Siesta Key entities that collect TDT revenue pulled in the largest amount for the fiscal year, compared to other locations in the county, the Tax Collector’s Office records show. Siesta accommodations accounted for $6,943,078.66, or 32.66% of the total for the 2017 fiscal year.

And, once again, the city of Sarasota was in second place, with $6,440,805.74, or 30.30% of the total.

North Port accommodations reported the smallest amount: $60,062.92, or 0.28%.

Visit Sarasota County staff was scheduled to discuss the overall economic impact of the World Rowing Championships during the Nov. 16 Tourist Development Council meeting, which was held after The Sarasota News Leader‘s deadline for this issue.