Tourism Bonanza Seen Brewing in Manatee, Sarasota


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, December 2nd, 2015 – Players in the real estate industry in the Florida Suncoast have reason to cheer about the strong indications that recent record gains in the region’s tourism sector follow a growth trajectory toward boom years ahead.

In Sarasota, this uptick was manifested in a 27 percent increase in the 5 percent tax on overnight accommodations during fiscal year 2015 to over $19 million. The same improvement from the previous two years was recorded in Manatee where the 5 percent tax on short-term rentals rose 30 percent to $11.74 million.

More funding for property market’s growth drivers

Tourism Bonanza Seen Brewing in Manatee, Sarasota

These strong tax revenue gains could catalyze further growth not only in tourism but also in real estate. Besides funding tourist promotion, the resort taxes collected likewise finance other projects to keep the tourists coming, such as beach renourishment and park improvements that also benefit residential communities and real estate developments.

Similar tailwinds with positive ripple effects on the real estate sector are being felt in Charlotte County where tourist development tax revenues collected in the 10 months ended July 2015 totaled $3.2 million, up 19 percent from the same period last year. A pick up in arrivals has also been noted in the county’s Punta Gorda Airport where 628,000 passengers came in 2014, a significant improvement from 110,000 in 2008 which was mainly due to the steadily increasing flights of discounter Allegiant Airlines to destinations around the county.

Expectations are even higher at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport which recently broke ground for a new $25 million air traffic control tower. Air Canada has announced it is extending year-round its erstwhile seasonal non-stop Toronto flight to the airport and will deploy a bigger 200-passenger jet for this service. Another discount airliner, WestJet, will be operating seasonal non-stop flights from Toronto to Sarasota-Bradenton International airport starting December 18, 2015.

Hotel room inventory rising

New major hotels in the pipeline, particularly in downtown Sarasota, promise to add further dynamism to the travel trade in the Suncoast and at the same time help provide market exposure to real estate opportunities in the region. One of these tourist facilities coming on stream is the 139-room Aloft Sarasota of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts chain. This hotel, which was reported set to open in February 2016, is located at the corner of South Palm Avenue and Ringling Boulevard, one of the hotspots for downtown Sarasota condos for sale.

At the start of 2017, Sarasota is also expected to welcome its first Westin Hotel programmed for 255 rooms and being developed alongside the residential tower called Vue which 141 units to the inventory of Sarasota condos for sale.

Stronger push on marketing

Including three other new hotel projects, some 500 additional hotel rooms in downtown Sarasota are expected to be available in the next few years. Construction of these new hotel rooms appear auspicious indeed as tourist promotions efforts are being accelerated to further improve visitor count in the region that already hit record levels recently. For Sarasota, the tourism marketing efforts has been beefed up for greater audience reach through exposure in the state-wide Visit Florida program targeted for a budget increase to $80 million in 2016.

Sarasota for the first time broke the 1 million tourists in paid lodgings last fiscal year, a count which doesn’t include “day trippers” who didn’t stay overnight. In Manatee, 3 million visitors were recorded in the same period, with 600,000 staying for one night or more.