Florida Tourism Breaks Records

Lee and Collier counties’ visitation and promotional agencies all reported record tax collection figures for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. The funds pay to help market the area to tourists, restore beaches and maintain sports parks and other facilities.

The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau recorded $26.5 million in tourist taxes on paid accommodations for the fiscal year ending in September, a 9.2 percent increase over last year’s record-breaking $24.2, beating a previous record set in 2009.

The Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that tax collections for the fiscal year set a record at $14.9 million. The previous record was from the fiscal year ending September 2008 with $14.8 million.

The state’s tourism agency, Visit Florida, said tourism and recreation taxable sales for Florida from January through August 2012 were $49 billion, representing a year-over-year increase of 7.5 percent over the same period in 2011.

Visit Florida said an increase in visitors to the state in the third quarter this year led to direct travel-related employment, which rose 1.5 percent during the same period, an addition of 15,000 jobs.

Visit Florida said the number of international travelers rose 5.5 percent during the third quarter of 2012.

In Lee County, the average daily rate hoteliers charge was up 4.1 percent from the prior year to $125.19. Hotels’ occupancy rates rose 2.4 percent to 56.3 percent. In Collier, the average daily rate in October, the latest month available, compared to a year before was up 4.7 percent to $122.10.

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