Busy Polk Calendar Makes for Happy Hoteliers, Restauranteurs and More
It has been said that “a rising tide lifts all boats” and a look at this week’s calendar of events throughout Polk County indicates that Polk’s tide continues to rise even higher. Detroit Tiger Spring Training and the RussMatt Collegiate Baseball Invitational are in full swing. Many additional sporting events are on the roster, along with concerts, performances, festivals and community events. There are more than 40 events taking place between now and the end of March, and April promises more of the same, with more than 60 events, including the return of the annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In and the IRONMAN 70.3 Florida triathlon.
Families on Spring Break will be coming and going over the next several weeks, the snowbirds are still here enjoying their winter home and Central Florida’s Visitor Information Center in Davenport is seeing its annual influx of spring visitors. This is music to the ears of Polk County business owners, and tourism officials, since Polk’s tourism tax collections are already at a record high. January 2016 revenue was up 22 % year-to-date over 2015; and fiscal year 2014-2015 collections were up 18% over 2013-2014, continuing a six year trend of annual tourism tax collection growth dating back to 2010. “The recent news that LEGOLAND Florida Resort is expanding their accommodations offerings, and more than eight additional properties are under development around the county, are positive indicators that Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing’s (PCTSM) critical mission of recruiting new accommodations and reducing Polk County’s supply side hotel deficit is working,” said Mark Jackson, Director of PCTSM.
Polk’s roads, restaurants, hotels and attractions may be crowded, but looking at the positive side means there are more heads in Polk County hotel and vacation rental home beds – and cash registers are ringing a beautiful tune. If there is a down side, it means having to leave home a bit earlier to account for the extra traffic and waiting a little longer to get into a favorite restaurant, but savvy locals know the infusion of tourist dollars supports the upkeep of Polk County roads and infrastructure, and saves them from having to pay a state income tax (Florida is one of only seven U.S. states that does not impose a state income tax).
The rising tide continues to lift the entire state. Last month Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida set another record in tourism by welcoming 105 million visitors in 2015. That was the fifth consecutive record year for visitation to Florida, exceeding the previous high of 98.5 million in 2014. The average number of direct travel-related jobs in 2015 was also at a record high, with nearly 1.2 million Floridians employed in the tourism industry. Governor Scott said, “With five consecutive record years for tourism, it is time to set our goal even higher, and I look forward to welcoming 115 million visitors to the Sunshine State this year.”
Contact: Kelly Rote
Polk County Tourism & Sports Marketing