Well, March Tourist Development Tax Collections confirmed strong STR and KeyData numbers and what many of you in the local tourism industry were saying about being “the busiest the destination has ever been.”
The $9,679,140 collected in March is the most ever for one month---$100,000 more than 2019, the previous high, which was highlighted by St. Pete Catalyst. And April’s STR and KeyData visitation numbers were even stronger against 2019, while May has run just about even in occupancy while outperforming 2019 ADR.
Numbers looking ahead from TravelClick and KeyData continue to be positive, too, with our destination’s demand holding steady with 2019.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance for those who have been fully vaccinated, saying “you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic” and can do so “without wearing a mask or physical distancing.” Important to note that there is still a federal mask requirement in place for various sectors of the transportation system through Sept. 13 and businesses and workplaces can still require mask wearing.
Locally, the now-approved Pfizer vaccine for 12-15-year-olds will be available with parental consent at Florida Department of Health centers starting Monday. Here’s a complete list of where one can still get a COVID-19 vaccine. And with many pharmacies offering free COVID-19 testing---even to those without insurance---the local Tropicana Field testing site closes this Saturday and the Ruth Eckerd Hall site on May 28.
Other pertinent updates are below.
LIFE’S REWARDS OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES ON AMAZON PRIME VIDEO, YOUTUBE
Visit St. Pete/Clearwater’s long-awaited TV series, Life’s Rewards, debuted this week on Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and Watch.VisitFlorida.com. The eight-episode series, which was created and produced by VSPC, Visit Florida and the St. Pete/Clearwater Film Commission, has generated significant earned media coverage locally and nationally. So, far the show is rated 4.7 stars on Amazon Prime Video with 45 reviews. To help support the project, watch, rate and review on any of the platforms.
VSPC ROLLS OUT STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS WITH INDUSTRY WEBINAR
As part of National Travel & Tourism Week last week, VSPC and HCP Associates shared their plan for the development of a 5-year strategic plan. A big part of that plan is engagement and involvement from the St. Pete/Clearwater tourism community to help shape the priorities and future of our destination and organization. You can watch the webinar recording here. Stay tuned for an industry-wide survey to share your perspective on what the plan should look like.
APPLICATIONS FOR TOURIST DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL OPENING DUE MAY 28
Applications are being accepted for one position on the Pinellas County Tourist Development Council (TDC) after the departure of long-time member Tony Satterfield. The current vacancy is for a member who is involved in the tourist industry who has demonstrated an interest in tourist development or an owner/operator of motels, hotels, recreation vehicle parks or other tourist accommodations in Pinellas County. Applicants must also be registered to vote in Pinellas County. The appointee will serve a term of four years. Applications must be received by 4 p.m. on Friday, May 28.
KEVIN KNUTSON SERVES AS INTERIM DIRECTOR OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Kevin Knutson will serve as the Interim Director of Pinellas County Economic Development. As the Assistant County Administrator for economic development, he will expand his role to support the department through a transition period as the County launches a national search for the next Director.
Kevin joined Pinellas County in September 2020 as an Assistant County Administrator responsible for administrative services, economic development, marketing and communications, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Visit St. Pete/Clearwater. The Next Move Group has been selected to manage the recruitment and selection of applicants for Pinellas County. Inquiries and resumes should be directed to Chad Chancellor at [email protected].
REMINDER, SEA TURTLE NESTING SEASON BEGAN MAY 1, RUNS THROUGH OCT. 31
With the beginning of sea turtle nesting season on May 1, its important to remember what you can do during the season to help protect adult and hatchling sea turtles as they nest on our beaches. A couple key items, including turning off outside lights, removing obstacles from the beach, keeping the beach clean and not harassing turtles. A complete list of recommendations is here.
GOVERNOR DESANTIS MAKES TO-GO ALCOHOL LAW STARTING JULY 1
As restaurants struggled through COVID-19, temporary to-go alcohol sales helped many stay afloat. Starting July 1, the option for restaurants to sell to-go alcohol will become state law for those who have special licenses and derive at least 51 percent of revenue from food and non-alcoholic sales. To-go drinks must be placed in secured containers and placed in locked compartments, trunks or in areas behind the last upright seats in vehicles. The law also prohibits alcoholic drinks being delivered by people under 21 and requires cutting off the sale of to-go drinks when restaurants’ scheduled food service ends for the day or at midnight, whichever occurs first.
MORE FLIGHT UPDATES, NEW ONLINE PARKING FROM TAMPA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Frontier Airlines is resuming service from Atlanta on May 28 and Austin, Texas, on June 10, while new service from Raleigh-Durham is scheduled to launch June 10 to Tampa International Airport (TPA). Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines is launching new nonstop service to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport on June 12. Also, TPA recently debuted its new online booking tool for parking that offers discounted rates, contactless convenience and future perks. Guests can book by clicking the parking banner at TampaAirport.com. Parking visits can be booked up to one year in advance of a trip and it will always be cheaper than at the gate.