Broward County tourism shined in March, as evidenced by a record $6.29 million in bed taxes — the first time bed tax collections have topped the $6 million mark in a single month, tourism officials said Thursday.
The bed tax, or 5 percent tourism tax, is levied on overnight visitors staying in county hotels.
“That’s what buys the promotion and advertising and marketing that we share that brings visitors to Broward County,” said Nicki E. Grossman, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “None of that would have been possible without the contribution that every member in the hospitality industry makes every single day.”
Greater Fort Lauderdale had two other notable tourism achievements last month.
March delivered its 40th consecutive month of growth, with average hotel occupancy at 88.4 percent, up 5 percent from 2012. Meanwhile, the month had average daily room rates of $153.34, marking 25 consecutive months of increased hotel rates.
Grossman delivered the “sunny forecast” Thursday to more than 500 hospitality stakeholders at the Broward County Convention Center during an event celebrating the industry’s economic contribution and National Tourism Appreciation Day.
In attendance was Dennis Castleman, vice president, industry relations, for the U.S. Travel Association in Washington, D.C., who noted Florida’s role as a key driver of tourism in the United States, where the travel sector is a $2 trillion economic engine.
“It starts at the destination level,” said Castleman, noting the assets that greater Fort Lauderdale has in its strong tourism agency, destination diversity and collaborative business community. “It takes all of that blended together to make a great destination.”
Last year, Broward welcomed 12.04 million visitors, who spent $9.8 billion in the county. This year CVB officials, encouraged by the signs, are predicting a record 13 million visitors.
“Our demand is up, international forecasts are up, sports activity is up, film and entertainment production is up, family reunion business is booming, our ‘Hello Sunny’ campaign is winning awards all over the country,” Grossman said.