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$14.6M sets monthly bed tax record for St. Pete-Clearwater


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St. Pete-Clearwater collected a record in bed tax dollars in March — a sign that, at least for that month, tourism is on the upswing.

The market drew $14.6 million in March in tourism development taxes, also known as the bed tax, the most collected in a single month since it began tracking the taxes, according to Eddie Kirsch, director of digital and data for Visit St. Pete-Clearwater, the tourism marketing arm for Pinellas County. 

The bed tax is a 6% tax on all accommodations in Pinellas County that are rented for less than six months.

“It was our strongest month ever to date,” Kirsch told the Pinellas County Tourism Development Council on Wednesday. 

“What’s kind of driving that is a mixture of things,” he added: Beach communities like Clearwater Beach performed better than they had been, while vacation rentals continued to grow and so did tourism in St. Petersburg. 

Tourism development taxes were up in March after a slump over the last two quarters.

The bed tax collected in March was almost an 8% increase over March 2023.

“We had a really good March,” Kirsch said.

People were spending more to stay in the area as well.

The hotel average daily rate was $274.41, which was up $11.23 from 2023, according to Kirsch, who showed the average daily spend on items like entertainment, restaurants and retail totaled over $153.83, up $19.33 from 2023.

The spike in bed taxes in March came on the heels of several months that were not as positive for the area.

“We had somewhat of a downfall for various reasons,” Kirsch said, from October through February, with the bed tax collected during those months down year-over-year except in November, when it was up 2.52%. “March really brought us back” to levels comparable to 2023, he said.

“We were going down," Tourism Development Council member Chuck Prather said, followed by "the greatest month we’ve ever had in this county." 

Said Prather: "You and your team have worked hard to get the folks back here.” 

 

author

Elizabeth King

Elizabeth is a business news reporter with the Business Observer, covering primarily Sarasota-Bradenton, in addition to other parts of the region. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, she previously covered hyperlocal news in Maryland for Patch for 12 years. Now she lives in Sarasota County.

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