Over 2,000 new hotel rooms are proposed or under construction in Pinellas County, targeting midscale to luxury visitors, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Digital and Data Director Eddie explained during the Oct. 18 Pinellas County Tourist Development Council meeting. However, the local tourism activity has not been as robust compared to prior years.
“We did see a dip in occupancy,” said Kirsch. “It tends to be more dramatic than the room rate for our market because we do have a greater amount of supply than we had last year.”
The region experienced a negative 3.8% occupancy dip and a 2.1% decrease in ADR (Average Daily Room Rate), the measurement for the average rental income per paid occupied room.
“We are in line with what the state of Florida is doing, and we are doing slightly better than some of our competitive destinations like Orlando and Palm Beach County,” Kirsch said.
Although the ADR fell into the negatives, Kirsch said the area is performing better than the Florida Keys and other destinations with higher room rates.
Year-to-date, the county has received $92.8 million in tourist development taxes. In August, $5.85 million was collected.
In the prior year, the county collected $90.3 million.
“Generally, beachfront properties had the hardest hit this summer, whereas inland properties did pretty well,” he said.
Overall, the collected data from the 43 properties shows the occupancy rate for beach hotels dropped by over 7% compared to last year, and the ADR plummeted by 5.7%.
The Belleair Beach area suffered a negative 36.7% in TDT collections, and the Clearwater Beach metro experienced a negative 8.5%.
The 67 inland hotels saw a slight decrease in occupancy and a higher ADR versus the prior rate by a 4.7% increase.
Kirsch highlighted six hotel projects coming online to the area, which will further increase the tax collections. Ten more hotels have been proposed.
Over half of the new rooms will come online in St. Pete Beach.
The hotel projects under construction:
Alanik Hotel on Clearwater Beach: 227 rooms; will be completed in 2025.
Moxy Hotel in St. Petersburg: 161 rooms; will be completed in 2024.
Home 2 Suites by Hilton Clearwater/St. Petersburg hotel: 128 rooms; will be completed in 2025.
WoodSpring Suites in Tarpon Springs: 122 rooms; will be completed in 2026.
The Hiatus Clearwater Beach Curio Collection by Hilton hotel: 88 rooms; will be completed this year.
The J Hotel in Dunedin: 68 rooms; will be completed in 2024.
There are additional hotel projects such as TradeWinds Island Resorts’ grand expansion on St. Pete Beach that will add several buildings and over 600 rooms.
Who is visiting Pinellas?
According to the latest visitor profile data, a typical traveler will stay five to six days in a hotel and spend roughly $242 per day in the county. The amount is less than the $342 daily average visitors previously spent.
The visitors are also primarily traveling to the area by car and are taking more day trips versus booking overnight stays to save on costs.
“We are still seeing decreases in daily spending, which is consistent with the times being tough for people to do luxury vacations. There’s also pent-up demand elsewhere in places like Europe that may be driving those visitors temporarily to that destination,” Kirsch said.
“We’ve seen that Hillsborough has been doing quite well, but that’s to our benefit. It’s helping us do a little better than the Keys, Miami and Orlando as those [places] took bigger hits,” he said.
Commissioners recommended looking at Hillsborough leaders’ sales and marketing tactics.
“If people are trying to save money, they may be staying farther away from the beach,” Kirsch said.
He said Hillsborough County has a lower room rate and Tampa’s destination marketers are successful at creating buzz for major events hosted in the city, due to its inventory of venues.