March 25, 2015 TDC Recap

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Dear Industry Partners:

Below you'll find a few updates from March's Tourist Development Council, which consisted of a joint Tourist Development Tax workshop with the Board of County Commissioners followed by an abridged VSPC director's report. As usual, all of the individual monthly departmental reports are available online.

Double-Digit Bed Tax Gains Continue With January Up More Than 23%
For the first time in more than nine years, the Tourist Development Tax collections jumped by more than 23% year-over-year as January rose by 23.16%. The increase pushed January past the $3 million mark for the first time ever, bringing the FY15 collections to more than 15% ahead of last year's record-setting pace. Dating back to 2013, bed tax receipts have increased 17 straight months and 39 of the past 40 months. In that time, there have been just two months (August 2012 and April 2014) that jumped by more than 20% year-over-year.

Successful ITB Yields Concerns About Weakening Euro
Visit St. Pete/Clearwater staff, along with Board of County Commissioner Chairman John Morroni, attended the annual ITB in Berlin earlier this month. The world's largest travel show, ITB, brings more than 10,000 exhibitors together, providing a forum for meetings with hundreds of qualified buyers and media throughout the week. While interest in St. Pete/Clearwater remains high in the Central European market, concerns about the Euro's relative decline in value was a major topic of discussion. The Euro recently hit a 12-year low trading at $1.05. By comparison, at this time last year the Euro was worth $1.40. Given that contracts for buyers are set at least a year in advance, the impact of the currency's swing won't likely be realized until later this year, unless the Euro makes a comeback in the interim. Another area the tourism industry is keeping an eye on is the fall in value of the Brazilian Real, which has lost 23% of its value in the past 12 months, hitting its weakest point since 2003.

VSPC Hosting Largest Latin America Contingent Ever for Grand Prix Weekend
As St. Pete/Clearwater interest soars in Latin America, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater is bringing in more than 40 incentive meeting and event clients and media for a complete destination FAM, centered around the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Three countries will be represented with a mix of consumer and trade media, tour operators, airline officials, meeting planners and group/incenetive representatives. Grand Prix has been gaining popularity across many Latin America markets, with one of the sport's major events being held in Sao Paulo every year. Media from New York and Boston will be in attendance, as well as more than a dozen local social and digital media influencers.

Again, these are just a few highlights from our recent efforts. April's TDC meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. on April 15. We hope to see you there.


David Downing
Executive Director