VSPC's 2012 Report Shows Record Year for Tourism

New Records Set Economic Impact, Total Visitation, First-Time Visitors

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

St. Pete/Clearwater, FL (March 26, 2013) - Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater's annual 2012 report, released at this Wednesday's Tourist Development Meeting, shows substantial increases in key tourism metrics to the St. Pete/Clearwater area, including increases in total visitation, visitor expenditures, occupancy and RevPAR (Revenue Per Available Room) for the calendar year 2012.

The report, compiled by VSPC's contracted research firm, Research Data Services, Inc., shows that the number of overnight visitors to the area increased by 200,000 to a record 5,435,000 in calendar year 2012, a 3.8 percent increase for the area compared to a 2.3 percent increase for the state as a whole. That number included more than 1.1 million first-time visitors to the area's commercial lodgings, a record number for that key tourism metric as well. 

Of particular note was the area's increase in room rates, which jumped by some 8 percent in 2012---nearly double the statewide average of 4.2 percent. Occupancy rates also bested statewide averages, hovering at 70 percent locally versus 64.8 percent for the state, according to Smith Travel Research. 

Visitors also spent more in 2012, as evidenced by an increase of 7.6 percent in visitor expenditures. This increase led to the total economic impact of tourism to the St. Pete/Clearwater topping $7.8 billion for the first time ever, an increase of more than $521 million over calendar year 2011. 

VSPC visitation outpaced state averages in many markets, including the number of visitors from the key feeder markets of New York and Chicago, which remain among the area's top domestic feeder markets. These increases are in keeping with VSPC's focus on those areas, where several years of sustained advertising and marketing outreaches have produced gains in market share. 

And while domestic visitation showed strong growth, the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area also saw large increases in visitation from Europe, Canada and Latin America. 

Canadian numbers jumped 4.7 percent to more than 335,000 visitors, while European visitation spiked nearly 7.0 percent, resulting in 1 million visitors to the area from the UK and Continental Europe. 

Though the actual numbers of visitors from Latin America to the area remain comparatively low, Latin America remains America's fastest growing market, expanding nationally by double digits year-over-year and locally by more than 53 percent in 2012 alone. 

"We are extremely happy to see such positive numbers," says DT Minich, VSPC Executive Director. "The strong growth in our top domestic and international markets proves that our sales and marketing efforts are on target, and we look forward to working with our local tourism partners to continue this success throughout 2013 and beyond." 

VSPC is the destination marketing organization for Pinellas County, Florida. 

For more information: www.VisitStPeteClearwater.com

Contact: Deputy Director, David Downing: David@VisitSPC.com

Phone: 727.464.7213