Richard Goldman, Executive Director of the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & the Beaches Visitors & Convention Bureau, informed Historic City News St. Johns County reporters that Tourist Development Tax collections for July were nearly 60 percent higher than for the same month in 2009.
The $854,553 collected was the largest monthly total since 1986 when the tax, commonly known as the bed tax, was first imposed on overnight stays.
Tourist development tax funds are used to market the county as a tourism destination, assist in funding cultural and heritage events, and to improve beaches.
“This record collection is a good indicator that after nearly two years of decline, spending by visitors for overnight accommodations on Florida’s Historic Coast is definitely showing a steady increase,” Goldman said. “Of course, much of the gain resulted from the increase in the tax from three percent to four percent in April, but even without the additional penny the collection for July was 18 percent higher than in July 2009.”
Goldman said tourist development tax collections have outstripped 2009’s rate for five consecutive months, averaging 42% higher each month at the new four percent rate and 6.5 percent higher at the previous three percent rate. With two months remaining in the fiscal year, the total tourist development tax collection so far in St. Johns County is $4.7 million. The total collection for 2009 was $4.6 million.
He credited much of this success to the Visitors and Convention Bureau’s new publicity, promotions and advertising campaigns, especially the Bureau’s immediate response to vacationers’ concerns about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
In 2009, visitors spent $620 million in St. Johns County, paid $37 million in sales tax and funded jobs for nearly 11,000 people in the tourism industry.