Tourist Development Council touts high pandemic figures

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 11/23/21

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Clay County is set to have one of its best years for tourism.

At last week’s Tourist Development Council meeting, Tourism and Film Development Director Kimberly Morgan …

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Tourist Development Council touts high pandemic figures

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Clay County is set to have one of its best years for tourism.

At last week’s Tourist Development Council meeting, Tourism and Film Development Director Kimberly Morgan presented council members with years of historical tourism data and occupancy numbers up to August of 2021.

She said the county’s bed tax collections were on track to beat the 2018-2019 fiscal year, which is the current largest year for collections. The September bed tax numbers have not come in yet.

“This is great news for us. It’s a testament to what people are doing when they visit here,” Morgan said. “We’ve been resilient through the pandemic and this report shows that. Kudos to the hospitality and tourism industry in Clay County.”

There has been $1,283,846 raised from January to August of 2021, while the 2019-2020 number for the same eight-month period was $1,081,559. The bed tax was recently increased, but Morgan said collection numbers would have beat historical data anyway.

“If this holds, it will be the largest bed tax collection year on record,” Morgan said.

The 76% of rooms occupied for October is 15% higher than October of 2020’s figures. The gap was closed in January where the 2021 and 2020 figures were 69% and 68%, respectively. The largest 2020 disparities, 53% occupancy in March of 2020 and 36% for April of 2020, were easily surpassed a year later with 81% and 82% of rooms occupied in March and April, respectively.

The county’s tourism department is currently parsing through data that shows when the highest demand is. Morgan wanted to be able to compare Clay County’s main draws to similar events in Jacksonville and St. Johns County.

TDC Chairman Mike Cella said the occupancy and bed tax gains during the pandemic are impressive.

“Depending on what the month of September rolls out to be, if it stays close to the average, we’ll be well above the 2018-2019 numbers,” Cella said.

Morgan said her team was trying to acquire separate Airbnb numbers from the state. The county can have 150 to 250 Airbnb units depending on availability, she added, and more data will be concrete toward the end of the year.

“That is important data for us … it’s equivalent to another hotel,” Morgan said.

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