Tourism up on Clearwater Beach - WFLA News Channel 8

Tourism up on Clearwater Beach

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CLEARWATER, FL (WFLA) - After the double whammy of the recession and the B.P. Oil Spill, tourism on Clearwater Beach is enjoying steady growth. 

This year is poised to set records in Clearwater. According to David Downing with Visit St. Pete-Clearwater, the bed tax numbers tell the story.

In the first year of growth after the recession, in 2011 the Pinellas bed tax was up 8%.  It went up another 12.3% in 2012 over the previous year.
2013 has already surpassed last year's numbers even without the bed tax tallied for September. " Looking at these numbers right now we're going to surpass 30-million dollars for the first time in the history of Pinellas county," said Downing.

Downing attributes the increase to an improving economy as well as his agency's efforts to market the Bay area to the international community.

Even though there is an increase in visitors, the number of available hotel rooms is down.  In Clearwater, for example, there are 1000 fewer hotel rooms now than in 2002.  During the real estate boom of 2006-2008, many properties were demolished to make way for condominium projects  that stalled during the recession. Now there is renewed interest in those vacant properties with more than 2000 hotel rooms in the planning stages for Clearwater.

Darlene Kole, president of the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce believes it's a good time for new business on the beach. "When we started seeing our tourism numbers increase, that led to the confidence of our business owners to invest more in their existing business...or to encourage a business owner who had thought about buying a business here," said Kole.

According to the city of Clearwater, 15 restaurants, 20 retail stores, and 5 hotels have opened on Clearwater beach in the last three years.


Related Story: Super Boat National Championship draws thousands in Clearwater
 

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