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Business Observer Friday, Aug. 9, 2019 9 months ago

Visitors pump up area economy to the tune of $6.6 billion

The numbers don't lie: Tourism spending continues unabated in Tampa and Hillsborough County.

Tourism Economics, a multinational company that analyzes tourists’ spending in metro areas worldwide, has crunched the 2018 numbers for Tampa and Hillsborough County and found that visitors pumped $6.6 billion into the economy.

The firm’s report is part of Visit Tampa Bay’s annual review of how tourism contributes to the city and county’s financial health. The destination marketing agency also found that more than 23.5 million people visited Hillsborough County last year, up 3.1% from 2017.

The $6.6 billion spent by tourists generated nearly $1 billion in federal, state and local taxes, the release states, and tourism supports more than 53,000 jobs. Restaurants, particularly ones that offer local culture and flavor, have fared well amid the boom, says Richard Gonzmart, president and fourth-generation caretaker of the Ybor City-based Columbia Restaurant Group.

“When people travel these days, they want that regional taste, that local flavor,” Gonzmart states in a press release. “Visitors want to eat where the locals eat. We’re fortunate that all of our restaurants are popular with tourists and with residents. You’ll find locals sitting next to visitors from all over the country and the world, brought together by a love of good food.”

In reviewing the numbers, Visit Tampa Bay found most tourists come from the U.S. Northeast and Midwest, as well as Texas and Canada. Other top markets include the U.K., Germany, Switzerland, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil.


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