2 minute read July 2019 — Quite often when the city of Tampa Bay is mentioned it is in the context of how rapidly the area is growing both in population and economically. The boom Tampa Bay is experiencing can be attributed to a great many things, including a bustling tech sector, a revolutionary healthcare market and first-class educational institutions. Perhaps most influential in all this growth, however, has been the economic rocket that is the city’s tourism sector. Tourism in Tampa Bay has steadily risen year after year, and with events like Super Bowl LV and Wrestlemania 36 on the horizon, that trend shows no signs of slowing down.
The spike in tourism to the region has not been by chance. Rather, it can be attributed to the focused and deliberate efforts made by local businesses, government and community organizations. Invest: Tampa Bay recently spoke with Santiago Corrada, the president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, about the record year the city had in 2018. “We had an incredible end to the 2018 calendar year. It was another record-setting year for hotel revenue, which is phenomenal given that we have had record-setting years every year since 2014. We ended 2018 at $673.5 million in hotel taxable revenue, which was almost 5% higher than the previous year at $644 million. This is important for us because anytime a county hits $600 million in taxable revenue, it is granted the designation of a high-impact tourism destination. We have been able to reach that designation for two years in a row, and this year was even more important because our county commission just approved a rise in the tourism tax from 5% to 6%, which is the highest that any county can collect.” The growth in tourism throughout Tampa Bay also has a spillover effect. As demand increases and new attractions open they bring with them fresh job opportunities for local residents.
To sustain momentum and build on these milestones, Corrada says that attracting new hotels to the city makes sense. “There are certain big-name, five-star brands we do not have in Hillsborough County, and as the business plan makes sense to add these properties then we will. These new properties will yield different business groups and markets for the region. We have to continue to capitalize when we have an opportunity to expand our reach, refresh our brands and to always have something new to bring visitors back,” Santiago told Invest. “That’s why new developments like the Tampa Riverwalk are so important, why food halls are so important and why Busch Gardens updating and adding its roller coasters is significant because it gives people a reason to want to come back to Tampa Bay. Sustainability in this industry has to do with still being aggressive and still going after it.”
Tampa Bay is quickly becoming a premier, must-visit destination in Florida. Tourism in the city of Tampa Bay shows no signs of slowing down, and due to the efforts of organizations like Visit Tampa Bay will likely reach new heights in 2019.
To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites: