The numbers are in — and they’re looking good for Pasco County tourism.
While much of the country is still rebounding from the impacts of COVID-19, Pasco County set new records in the number of visitors it attracted and tourism’s impact on the local economy, according to a 104-page report delivered by Adam Thomas, tourism director Experience Florida’s Sports Coast, the county’s tourism arm.
Thomas shared the findings from the 2021 Economic Impact & Visitor Tracking Report, completed by Downs & St. Germain Research Inc., consultants on the county’s tourism efforts.
Thomas delivered the good news to the Pasco County Commission at its Feb. 8 meeting.
Perhaps the biggest news is Pasco’s record-shattering number of visitors, which the study put at 1,358,200 — compared to the previous high mark of 1 million, set in 2019.
“From right off the heels of a pandemic, we welcomed over 300,000 additional visitors,” Thomas said.
Those guests generated about 1.4 million room nights, 16.6% growth over fiscal year 2019.
The tourism impact report was based on 2,499 interviews completed with Pasco County visitors online and in-person at local attractions, parks, hotels and events, between Oct. 1, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2021.
The total economic impact was calculated based on direct spending by visitors, and indirect and induced impacts, such as increased business and household spending generated by tourism dollars.
Downs & St. Germain Research uses economic modeling to calculate the multiplier based on direct expenditure data collected from visitors to Pasco County, according to the report.
The multiplier used for Pasco County is 1.41.
Based on those calculations, the overall economic impact from tourism in Pasco County last year was $721 million.
Visitors spent an estimated $511 million on restaurants, gas, lodging, attractions and entertainment, up 10.6% from fiscal year 2019.
Directly and indirectly, there are more than 9,200 jobs in Pasco that support the tourism industry, and those jobs generate more than $231 million, Thomas said. That’s up (about) 38%, year-over-year from 2019, he added.
The report also breaks down why people are visiting Pasco, where visitors are coming from, and offers demographic information on those traveling here.
Here are some specifics:
Why they came:
- 29% to visit friends and family
- 16% to attend a sporting event, throughout Pasco
- 11% for a getaway
- Typical travel parties consisted of 2.7 people.
- One in three travel parties included someone under age 20.
Where they came from:
- 64% of visitors came from five states: 46% from Florida; 4%, Georgia; 4%, Illinois; 4%, New York; and 4%, Ohio.
How they arrived
- 85% drove; of those who didn’t, the vast majority flew through Tampa International Airport.
The economic impacts from tourism go beyond the businesses that serve tourists, such as hotels, restaurants and gas stations, Thomas said.
For instance, the tourism industry saves every Pasco household more than $385 a year in state and federal taxes, the tourism director said.
It also draws attention to Pasco County, and that can prompt visitors who own businesses to decide to set up a venture here, said Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore, who chairs the Pasco County Tourist Development Council.
Thomas also noted that the county gets a good return on investment for its tourism marketing efforts.
For every dollar spent on marketing Pasco County, visitors spend $70, Thomas said.
“Our strategy is really focused on hitting the right visitor, at the right time, in the right medium — to get the ultimate return,” he said.
Pasco County Tourism, by the numbers
2021 $721,719,800, up 10.6% from 2019
2021: $511,857,800, up 10.6% from 2019
2021: 1,358,200, up 30.8% from 2019
Room nights generated
2021: 1,419,000, up 16.6% from 2019
2021: 9,254, up 17.6% from 2019
Wages and salaries generated
2021: $231,648,800, up 37.8% from 2019
Source: Florida’s Sports Coast, FY 2021 Economic Impact & Visitor Tracking Report (Downs & St. Germain Research)
Published February 16, 2022