St. Pete/Clearwater Tourism Set to Take Flight In 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014 - 3:46pm

St. Pete/Clearwater, FL (December 31, 2013) - As the St. Pete/Clearwater area prepares for a ceremonial New Year's Day flight marking the 100th Anniversary of commercial aviation, we thought it apropos to highlight a few of the many ways in
which local tourism soared to new heights in 2013 as well.

From soaring tourism records to the launch of new international flights to amazing aerial videos captured via hi-tech drone cameras, the area has spread its wings in 2013, and is perched to soar to even greater heights in 2014. Here are just a few highlights from the last

  • Soaring Bed Tax: For the first time ever, in FY 2013 the St. Pete/Clearwater area Tourist Development Tax topped the $30 million mark, landing more than $2 million past the previous record set in 2012. This increase---which the Tampa Bay Times labeled one of the Top Ten Business Stories of 2013---puts area tourism tax receipts 18% above their pre-recession high set back in 2008 and places the area in an elite group of six Florida "high-impact tourism destinations" statutorily recognized for the huge role tourism on their local economies.
  • Taking Flight: Earlier this month, the area saw the launch of its first-ever direct air service to Latin America: direct flights on Copa Airlines that will connect the area to dozens of destinations across Central and South America. The service, which was the result of a partnership with Tampa International Airport and VisitTampa Bay, is offered four times a week. Also, Zurich-based Edelweiss Air, which started direct service back in 2011, will add another direct weekly flight to existing service starting this spring.
  • Views From Above: Earlier this year, VSPC was the first Florida tourism organization to use state-of-the-art drone videos to convey the beauty of the destination, providing a true birds-eye view of some of the area's most beautiful and recognizable landmarks. Also, as part of this summer's Where Summer Rocks campaign, VSPC released this adrenaline-pumping sky surfing "Rockumentary," which showcases a local attraction that offers extreme aerial experiences---and breathtaking views from high above Clearwater Beach.
  • Beaches Fly to Top of "Best" Lists---Again: Cementing its title as home of America's Award Winning Beaches, the St. Pete/Clearwater area garnered more than a half dozen major titles this year from outlets ranging from USA TODAY to TripAdvisor to Parents magazine and more. Here's a rundown of the 2013 accolades alone:
    • Clearwater Beach: Voted "Best Beach Town in Florida" by USA TODAY
    • TripAdvisor named four area beaches to "Best in the U.S." list: Fort De Soto Park (#4), Caladesi Island State Park (#12), Pass-A-Grille (#15) and Clearwater Beach (#18)
    • Parents magazine named St. Pete Beach one of America's Top 10 Best Beach Towns for 2013.
    • USA Today readers named Fort De Soto Park "Best Family Beach" and Anclote Key Preserve State Park notched "Best Hidden-Gem Beach.
  • Social Media Soars: In addition to having one of the most popular Facebook pages in Florida tourism---more than 180K "Likes" at last count---the VSPC brand has surpassed 1 million views on its YouTube channel as well. But leading the way is the @VSPC Twitter handle, which recognizes as one of the Top 5 most engaged tourism twitter accounts in the world.

Fans Flip for Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Just this month, Clearwater Marine Aquarium was voted the "Best Florida Attraction" by USA TODAY/10 Best. And this feat was no walk in the park: The aquarium bested some of Florida's---and the world's---most popular attractions, including Walt Disney World, to rise to the top of this list.