Gulf Coast Tourism

By: 
Apr. 9, 2010

What the data shows: Taxable sales in the category of tourism and recreation include those at hotels and motels, bars and restaurants, liquor stores, photo and art stores, gift shops, admissions, sporting goods, rentals and jewelry stores. Data is for January, the latest available.

What it means: The Super Bowl in Tampa on Feb. 1, 2009, made it difficult to compare January 2010 with the same month a year ago. Tampa's double-digit percentage annual drop in tourism-related sales can be attributed in part to the fact that it didn't host the Super Bowl this year. The big game in 2009 also may have skewed Sarasota's tourism sales, though to a lesser degree. Another culprit was the snowy weather in northern states, which may have prevented some visitors from traveling to the state.

Forecast: Europeans may pick up the slack this summer, but the Old World economy is facing a tough recovery and the euro-dollar exchange rate isn't as favorable as it was last year. Hoteliers are banking on in-state travel, though the unemployment rate in Florida remains high and consumer confidence remains relatively low. Still, an improving stock market may spur some Americans to take a trip to Florida this summer.