Pasco County has posted its best year in tourism, according to county officials.
“This last year has been one for the record books,” Ed Caum Tourism Manager for VisitPasco, said in a news release.
“We surpassed our prediction of 10 percent growth and are up 17 percent over last years collections,” he said.
Specifically, Pasco County posted $968,263 in Tourist Tax collections, in the period between October 2014 and the end of September 2015.
Pasco’s results are in keeping with record numbers of tourists visiting Florida.
That trend is expected to continue, according to VisitFlorida, which is predicting that tourism and the hospitality industries will continue to experience growth.
Counties surrounding Pasco County also have experienced record years in Tourist Tax collection.
“We have expanded our marketing reach in the last two years to reach out to international travelers, as well as North America,” Caum explained. “Last year we focused on Germany and this year we will be reaching out to the United Kingdom and into South America to the Spanish speaking countries.” VisitFlorida trends show that Florida is expected to attract tourists from the emerging markets of Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina and Mexico.
The impact of tourism on Pasco County is captured in a report from the U.S. Travel Association:
- Travel spending in Pasco was nearly $466 million, generated from more than 500,000 visitors
- Travel created nearly 6,000 full-time employees, with an annual payroll in Pasco County of $106.2 million
- Local sales tax generated from those visitors totaled more than $14.9 million
“Tourism continues to be an economic engine in Pasco County,” Caum said.
Caum offered additional details at an breakfast meeting of the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce.
Caum also talked about bright prospects for a greater number of tourists, as attractions such as Tampa Premium Outlets and Florida Hospital Center Ice open in Wesley Chapel, and people take advantage of the newly opened Tree Hoppers in Dade City and Sunwest Park in Hudson.
The hospitality industry is gearing up for increased tourism.
Pasco County currently has 3,556 hotel rooms, according to Caum. He expects Pasco’s hotel stock to increase by 75 beds a year for the next five years.
Besides the growth generated by new attractions, Pasco has long been a magnet for skydivers and for visitors to the county’s nudist resorts, which attract visitors from throughout Florida and from around the globe.
Caum said healthy tourism figures bode well for people who work directly in the hospitality industry, as well as for all Pasco business owners and residents.
The taxes paid by tourists reduce the tax burden for Florida residents, tourism provides jobs, and the amenities that are created to attract visitors, Caum said, can be enjoyed year-round by local residents.
Published October 28, 2015