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Lee-Collier-Charlotte
Business Observer Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021 1 year ago

County sets new bed tax record

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Lee County is on pace for another solid year in 2022.

FORT MYERS — Lee County set a record for tourism revenue in 2021, collecting more than $53.3 million in bed taxes for the fiscal year.

The total surpassed the previous record of $42.6 million set in fiscal year 2019, according to a statement from the Lee County Clerk of Court’s office. The funds come from the county’s 5% tourist tax — applied to all hotel stays and rentals of six months or less.

The 2022 fiscal year is also on a record-setting path: in October, the county, according to the statement, collected $2.4 million — a 29% increase from October 2020 and a 65% increase from October 2019, which brought in $1.46 million.

“Tourism is a huge driver of our economy, funding one out of every five jobs in Lee County,” says Lee County Clerk of the Court and Comptroller Linda Doggett says in the statement. “The best part of the bed tax is that all Lee County residents benefit from it, but it doesn’t cost us a penny.”

The tourist tax is collected and distributed by the Clerk of Court and helps fund destination marketing, local sports facilities and maintenance of 50 miles of Lee County beach and shoreline, according to the statement. The monies also go toward funding local nonprofits at more than 40 local attractions.

During fiscal year 2020 — in the peak of the pandemic — $39.6 million was collected in bed taxes, closely matching the total from fiscal year 2015, the release states. The county’s fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. “We’re hopeful that as we continue to recover from the pandemic, our tourism tax collections will continue to grow,” Doggett says in the statement.

Lee County joins several other counties and cities in the region in setting high tourism marks. Visit Tampa Bay, the destination marketing organization for Tampa and Hillsborough County, for example, recently reported that it collected $38.4 million in bed taxes during its latest fiscal year, which ran from October 2020 to September 2021. The agency adds that six of the fiscal year’s 12 months saw record-breaking levels of bed tax revenue.

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