By Amy VT Moriarty
A drop in local tourism in early October could be a slip on your radar – or the start of a worrying downward trend.
Anne Wittine of Research Data Services reviewed tourism trends and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on local industries during a Manatee County Tourist Development Council meeting October 19 at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Have Blvd., Palmetto.
The TDC makes recommendations to the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners on tourism development operations and how tax revenues are used for tourism development.
Wittine’s research for August showed that Manatee County saw the result of a steady increase in travelers’ comfort levels following safer home orders in the spring. The state began phase 1 of its reopening plan in May.
Room occupancy increased by 5.7%, with the average daily rate increasing by 1.5% from August 2019 to the same month of this year.
The number of visitors to the region rose by 12.5% from 46,400 in 2019 to 52,200 in August, according to Wittine’s research.
In addition, the number of overnight stays rose 11.7% from 109,700 to 122,500 over the same period, resulting in an overall increase in economic impact of 10.5%.
Wittine called it “a record” and remarked, “It was the highest August ever.”
Wittine said the increase in the numbers for August was mainly due to visitors from the state who are spending less and staying shorter.
“Although it’s great that more Floridians have visited,” said Wittine, “they come on weekends so hotels still have problems mid-week.”
In a comparison between August 2019 and August 2020, Wittine’s study found a significant increase in visitors from Florida from 19,350 to 36,380, which corresponds to an increase of 88%.
The largest decreases in visitor origin were in Canada and Europe, with a 100% decrease.
The island used to be full of British and German visitors, but now there are none due to travel bans.
In a longer-term review from October 2019 to August 2020, Wittine’s investigation found that visitor numbers in the region decreased by 11.4% from 711,800 in the same period of 2018-19 to 630,500.
Similarly, the economic impact decreased 13.8% from $ 1,006,389,700 in the 2018-19 period to just $ 867,630,800.
To attract tourists, the tourist tax-funded Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is renewing a report for travel reporters and social media influencers.
Kelly Clark, director of marketing for the BACVB, wrote in an email to The Islander on Oct. 23 that the BACVB stopped turning to the media when the pandemic began, but will now focus on media within a radius.
“We have had a lot of positive feedback and are currently planning some one-on-one visits from local bloggers / influencers by the end of the year,” she wrote.
Another aspect of marketing that TDC is promoting is “Unwind With Peace of Mind,” a digital campaign for Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee.
The campaign, funded with $ 235,000 from the coronavirus aid, aid and economic security grant, will run in two phases. The focus is initially on women ages 35 to 63, empty nest and boomer couples, and households with incomes of $ 120,000 or more.
The next group the campaign is aimed at includes women ages 30 to 64, households with incomes of $ 100,000 or more, and families with one or more children.
In other TDC stores
- Elliott Falcione, Executive Director of BACVB, said the region will host the Under-21 Baseball World Cup in 2021.
With 6,200 overnight stays expected, he estimated the area would experience a $ 6 million economic boom that is directly related to the championship games.
It is the first time since 1995 that the championships have been held in the USA. Teams from 12 countries will meet at Bradenton’s LECOM Field, the Pittsburgh Pirates ‘spring training home, and the Baltimore Orioles’ spring home, Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, September 10-21.
The World Baseball and Softball Confederation and USA Baseball made regional on-site visits before choosing Sarasota / Bradenton to host the event, Falcione said.
To market the event, the TDC unanimously voted to recommend a $ 425,000 budget from tourist bed tax to county officials.
The council also voted to recommend the County Commission budget of $ 450,000 for an incentive program designed to encourage airlines to add nonstop flights at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.
The council recommended that most of the spending go to Allegiant Air, which has added 19 new non-stop flights since August.
About the OT
The TDC is made up of Chair Misty Servia, Vice Chair Vernon DeSear, Ed Chiles, Eric Cairns, Jack Rynerson, Jiten Patel, Barbara Baker, Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston, and Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant.
For more information on the TDC, please contact Monica Luff at 941-729-9177 or email [email protected]