A newly released study commissioned by the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council (AITDC) makes it pretty clear just how important tourism is to the destination.
The study show that in 2019, visitor activities on Amelia Island generated almost $900 million in total economic impact.
Nearly 1.5 million visitors generated $679 million in direct spending in Nassau County in 2019, the 10th straight year of economic growth.
The 2019 Value of Visitors Report was compiled by renowned Tallahassee-based Downs & St. Germain Research. Compared to 2017, the study revealed a 3.9% increase in visitation, an 8.5% increase in direct spending, and an 8.3% increase in total economic impact. The 72-page report is done biannually, summarizing the profound impact visitors have on the economy, government, and citizens of Nassau County.
Gil Langley, president and CEO of the Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau (AICVB), said: “In the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, this study underscores the importance of tourism to Nassau County. Since last March, thousands of hospitality workers have lost jobs, businesses are struggling, and tax revenues are significantly down.”
Langley added: “This report clearly demonstrates what is possible when the tourism industry rebounds and again serves as the economic engine of Nassau County.”
According to the research, from 2000 to 2019, the number of annual visitors has almost doubled, whereas the amount of visitor spending has increased 255%, a clear indication the AICVB has been successful in its efforts to increase yield, thereby building a sustainable tourism industry.
Langley observed: “Importantly, this study demonstrates we can enjoy record activity while pursuing a sustainable tourism model. Our goal is to implement a marketing plan that results in low growth visitation while maximizing economic and cultural benefits.”
Highlights of the report include:
- Visitors accounted for more than 35% of all retail sales in the county, without which many of the island’s favorite restaurants, shops and other businesses would likely not exist. Visitors to Amelia Island also accounted for 35.2% of all expenditures in Nassau, meaning the county’s economic health would decline by more than one third without visitor spending.
- In 2019, 14,3345 local jobs were attributed to direct spending from visitors, which conservatively translates into one job for every 102 visitors. Put in perspective, this means nearly 36% of all jobs in Nassau County are directly attributable to tourism on Amelia Island, making it the county’s No. 1 industry.
- Nassau County’s economy is more than one and a half times as dependent on tourism as the economy of Florida – a state which draws more than 120 million annual visitors, and in which 16% of the employment is in the leisure and hospitality sector.
- Comparatively speaking, more than two times as much of the labor force in Nassau County is employed in tourism when compared to the labor force of the State of Florida, and when compared to the entire US labor force.
- Visitors to Amelia Island paid 38.3% of all local and state taxes in Nassau County in 2019, and accounted for 35.2% of all taxable sales. In sum, visitors generated 36.7% of all tax revenue for Nassau County government or over $84 million.
- The revenue generated by visitors ($84,205,593) far outpaces the cost of providing services and infrastructure to those visitors ($30,503,252), resulting in a net positive impact of nearly $54 million ($53,701,3410) for Nassau County government.
- Without the revenue generated by visitors, each Nassau County household would have had to pay an additional $1,719 in taxes to receive the same level of services from county government. When factoring in state sales taxes paid by visitors to Amelia Island, visitors saved each county household nearly $4,445 in all local and state taxes paid to Nassau County government and the Nassau County Public School District, a nearly 31% increase in tax savings compared to 2017.
- Every $1.00 invested in tourism marketing in 2019 generated $6.98 for the Nassau County School System (up from $4.10 in 2017), $22.36 for Nassau County government (up from $12.33 in 2017), and $180 in visitor spending (up from $105 in 2017).