Anna Maria bed receipts jump 52 percent since last year

cschelle@bradenton.comAugust 14, 2013 

MANATEE -- Anna Maria saw a 52 percent increase in bed taxes year over year in June, bringing in $122,888 compared with $79,851 during June 2012, according to the tax collector.

Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Anna Maria Island is continuing to ride the wave of the TripAdvisor No. 4 ranking as best U.S. island. The attention through social media created more demand, coupled with a pent-up desire for a vacation following the recession, he added.

"With the pent-up demand we've seen mainly on the west coast of Florida, accommodations are able to increase average daily rates and in turn, get more tourism tax revenues," Falcione said.

The latest tourism tax receipts show tourists spent more money to stay at hotels in June, grossing $797,117 in taxes compared with the $731,542 in June 2012, according to the Manatee County Tax Collector Office. May saw $612,529 brought into the county's coffers, which was down from the $771,368 in April.

Overall, the 2012-13 fiscal year continues to be strong for tourism. If tourism revenues remain flat for July and August, the county would still be more than $670,000 ahead of the 2011-12 totals of $8.06 million.

So far, Manatee has grossed $7.6 million in tourism taxes this year.

For the past five years, June has been a rebound month for tourism taxes from the springtime low in May. Tax receipts since 2008-09 show that after the June bump, revenues continue to decline July through September

before creeping back up in October, readying for the peak in February and March.

Commonly called bed taxes, local option tourist development taxes are paid by visitors staying at hotels and resorts and those revenues are used for marketing and tourism-related endeavors.

Holmes Beach continues to be the best bed tax generator in Manatee, outpacing all municipalities and unincorporated Manatee, grossing $258,910 in June, according to the tax collector. However, that stands as a 2.6 percent drop from the $265,908 collected during the same month last year. Longboat Key's bed taxes dropped by 8 percent while Palmetto declined 4 percent compared with last year.

"We've kept it going through the off-season because the rates are lower, the weather is beautiful and there are not as many people here and kids aren't back in school yet," said Mary Ann Brockman, president and chief executive officer of the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce. "It really is a nice time to come."

Brockman was surprised at how much the city of Anna Maria has gained since last year, but credited the climb to new resort homes in Anna Maria and new guest homes above shops along Pine Avenue, providing more places for visitors to stay while maintaining an Old Florida charm.

"It's still an extremely laid back, quiet environment where people can actually go on vacation and enjoy it," Brockman said.

The Chamber of Commerce is regularly filling requests for information and brochures during the summer months, signaling a strong fall season, Brockman added.

Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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