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Tourism soars in Tampa Bay area

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  • | 3:00 p.m. October 31, 2023
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Taylor Swift performed three shows at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium in April.
Taylor Swift performed three shows at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium in April.
Image via Paolo Villanueva
  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
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Tampa and Hillsborough County's tourism numbers led to the best fiscal year ever, with almost $1.1 billion in taxable hotel revenue, according to a news release from Visit Tampa Bay.

And that wasn't the only record.

In 2023, Visit Tampa Bay, the city and county's visitors and conventions organization, booked more than 630,000 rooms for future years, according to Santiago C. Corrada, president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay.

Corrada told the Business Observer in an interview that there were numerous factors in the record-setting year, including Taylor Swift's three concerts in April, which contributed to more than 93% of Hillsborough County's hotel rooms being booked for those nights. Hillsborough County has about 26,000 hotel rooms.

Visit Tampa Bay's fiscal year ends Sept. 30. The organization says taxable hotel revenue for September reached more than $73 million, a 7.2% increase, while September’s occupancy increased 3.2%, to 63.7%.

The September average daily hotel rate came in at $139.93. Revenue per available room, a heavily tracked metric in the industry known as RevPAR, reached $89.15, meaning if every room had been sold, that price would be the average.

Corrada says Tampa Bay has proven it can set standards that others strive to follow, pointing to being No. 1 in post-COVID recovery for group bookings.

Tampa Bay was recently recognized as leading the way in "hospitality recovery," or beating pre-COVID booking numbers. Tampa achieved the No. 1 spot among the top 25 markets in the U.S. in the latest Hospitality Group and Business Performance Index from Knowland and Amadeus.

That study, released Oct. 18, found that the top 25 markets in the third quarter of the calendar year recovered 99.1% for group business compared to the same time in 2019, before COVID-19. But Tampa did much better than the average, hitting No. 1 for revenue, recovering 116.8% of such group business.

Corrada noted Visit Tampa Bay target both leisure travelers and group bookings, and he has noticed even Western destinations advertising in Tampa.

"You never rest on your laurels," Corrada says. "There's a finite number of travelers we can hit. … It's very competitive across the country."


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