Snow, ice drive tourists to Treasure Coast from
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Tourists are spending more money at Treasure Coast hotels, motels and short-term rental homes than they have in a number of years, area tourism officials report.
Nasty winter weather up north is being cited as the reason for a surge in collection of county bed taxes, a fee charged on all short-term lodging, since Oct. 1, officials said.
County reports indicated visitors pumped about 25 percent more tourist-development money in Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties in October and November than during the same period last year. December statistics aren’t yet available, but seem on track for another banner month, officials said.
In Indian River, October bed taxes were up 24.7 percent from 2016, with $179,446 collected. That’s about $52,000 more than the county projected for the month in its fiscal 2017-18 budget, and $35,000 more than the same time last year.
In November, that number climbed even higher, $43,751 or 25.7 percent. Since Oct. 1, Indian River County has received $393,626 in bed taxes.
The county collects a 4 percent tax on all short-term lodging, including hotels, campgrounds, mobile homes and time shares.
Any rental or lease for six months includes a total of 11 percent tax — 6 percent state sales tax, 1 percent county sales tax and 4 percent tourist-development tax.
Indian River also collected $16,000 in back payments for June and August 2014. Indian River County Clerk of the Courts Jeff Smith said efforts by the county to go after non-payers resulted in those collections.
Additionally, the county now generates about $4,000 monthly from an agreement with Airbnb to collect and pay the bed tax on its Florida rentals, Smith said.
St. Lucie County revenue
In St. Lucie, tourism-tax revenue was up 13 percent, with $282,163 collected. That’s $33,096 more this year than last, with an even larger increase seen in November, when collections climbed to $283,932. Last year, St. Lucie County received $3.9 million in tourism taxes, up from $3.6 million in 2016.
St. Lucie imposes a 5 percent tourism tax on accommodations rented for six months or less. Most of that revenue is used to operate, renovate and maintain the New York Mets’ spring training complex at First Data Field, while the remainder maintains parks and helps promote tourism.
Martin County revenue
In Martin County, tourism-tax revenue jumped 26 percent in October, with the county collecting $128,035. November declined slightly to $102,189 due to late reporting by a few facilities, so those amounts have been added to the December report, Tourism and Marketing Manager Nerissa Okiye said.
For December, Martin County bed-tax revenue increased 48 percent, with $184,082 collected. A new resort, Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa in Jensen Beach, drove the numbers higher, with overall increases from October, November and December up 23 percent to $414,306.
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