Total number up 2 percent from October 2014 to October 2015, with 8.2-percent spending increase
They just keep coming — and spending their money.
The number of visitors to Sarasota County this October who stayed in paid lodging grew by 2 percent compared to the figure for October 2014, Visit Sarasota County announced this week — and that growth came without the opening of a major new mall or an international rowing event at Nathan Benderson Park.
Those visitors’ direct expenditures were up by 8.2 percent year-over-year, Visit Sarasota County (VSC) President Virginia Haley wrote in a Dec. 1 email that went to the Sarasota County commissioners, among other recipients.
Haley pointed out, “While [the numbers] may not look remarkable, they really are. In October 2014, you will recall that we had the opening of the Mall at [University Town Center] which brought retail training teams for weeks to our area hotels AND we were the host to the huge international Dragon Boat Breast Cancer Survivor event. Even without these two major events, we held our own in October 2015.”
A report prepared this fall by county staff, with Visit Sarasota County assistance, showed the Dragon Boat Festival accounted for an economic impact on the county of $3,859,115.59. The event’s 2,564 participants and 3,407 spectators stayed in a total of 5,263 county accommodations, that report said. (See the related article in this issue.)
Haley added in her Dec. 1 email that hotel occupancy in Sarasota County for October was 63 percent — the same level recorded in October 2014 — but the room rates for October of this year were up by 7.8 percent, to an average of $146.66.
In documents provided to the county’s Tourist Development Council in February of this year, VSC reported that the number of tourists who stayed in paid lodging in October 2014 was up 8.3 percent from October 2013, and their direct spending had increased 10.7 percent year-over-year for that month. The October 2014 total was $56,601,200.
The daily hotel/motel/condominium occupancy rate was up 12.1 percent from October 2013 to October 2014, the report showed.
The average room rate was $136.09 in October 2014, which was down by 4.3 percent from the October 2013 figure of $142.22. Just the next month, however — in November 2014 — the average daily room rate rose 8 percent compared to the November 2013 figure.
In her Dec. 1 email, Haley further noted that the top three markets from which tourists came to Sarasota County in October of this year were Tampa, New York City and the Washington, D.C./Baltimore metropolitan area. On Nov. 19, she told members of the county’s Tourist Development Council that the marketing contract the county forged with the Baltimore Orioles when the team chose Sarasota for Spring Training has provided VSC with $1 million a year to promote Sarasota County to residents of the team’s home region.
The Sarasota County Tax Collector has not yet released the October Tourist Development Tax figures. (They usually are posted around the first full week of each month.) The final report for the county’s 2015 fiscal year shows total revenue at $19,020,741.84, an increase of $2,051,428.77, or 12 percent, over the figure for FY 2014.