The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB) — which represents The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel in southwest Florida — reports record-breaking tax collections for the third year in a row, with $28.6 million in tourist tax on paid accommodations for fiscal year 2012-2013, which ended Sept. 30. The new record is a nearly 8% increase over last year’s record-breaking $26.5 million in collections and a 30.9% rise from the $22.7 million collected in fiscal year 2010.
VCB executive director, Tamara Pigott said of the results: “These numbers are even more impressive given their historical context. The bed tax has dipped only three times in county history, the most recent being during the recession-hit 2009 season. The four-year climb in collections since then says a great deal about how hard our community has worked together to make our local tourism industry strong.”
The VCB also reported positive results for other key tourism performance indicators for the destination. Visitation rose 8.5% from fiscal year 2011-2012; expenditures increased 4.5%; and average occupancy jumped by 6.8%. Similarly, the average daily room rate climbed 2.9%, and the average party size for visitors also finished up by 3.2% year-over-year.
In addition to the record-breaking numbers for the VCB’s fiscal year, the calendar year visitor statistics were favourable. From January through September 2013, visitation rose 12.3%, and average occupancy climbed 6.6%. Expenditures were up 3.7%, with visitors spending $2.1 billion in Lee County so far this year.
Pigott observed: “Our local tourism partners played an important role in our collective success by delivering a great product, fantastic deals and outstanding customer service. I’m also proud of our recent marketing efforts. We fine-tuned our approach to target visitors both by geography and by their behaviours, and that’s certainly paying off.”