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Tourism numbers dip as hotel inventory jumps

Veronica Brezina



A new rendering of the Moxy Hotel. Image provided by PTM Partners and Storyn Studio for Architecture.

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. 

The ADR in each Florida hotel market. All images: Visit St. Pete-Clearwater. 

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 targeted markets for the county’s hoteliers. 

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. 

The profile of the average Pinellas County traveler.

“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. 

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  1. Avatar

    Steve D

    October 22, 2023at1:26 pm

    Oh Paul, wait until winter sets in up in the great woke North. You’ll see the finger-wagging, hypocritical, so-called morals be “gone with the wind”. The hotels will be full again.

  2. Avatar


    October 22, 2023at10:02 am

    This is only the beginning – the decline is 100 percent because of retail tourism, individuals who are now choosing to vacation elsewhere. 2023 is simply too soon for groups to cancel (and reschedule) large gatherings. When the cascade of cancelled conventions happens starting next year, the numbers are going to be much worse.

    Broward County does a press release detailing cancelled conventions. All that I have seen also include comments from the group no longer coming to Florida. Not surprisingly, lax gun laws and the open hate toward anyone not white, straight and Christian are the reasons.

    If Pinellas provides the same information, I’ve not been able to find. Perhaps with new leadership, we’ll see going forward.

  3. Avatar

    Christopher L.

    October 22, 2023at12:55 am

    As a taxpayer in St. Petersburg I’m opposed to spending $1 billion on a new stadium and diverting property taxes to pay the cost. A new adjacent hotel and convention center will also require taxpayer guarantees. In light of declining tourist visits, why are taxpayers investing in tourist amenities rather than water, sewer, housing, schools , beach replenishment, water quality, etc.? Please tell your City and County Councilmember to get a better deal for taxpayers.

  4. Avatar

    Steve D

    October 21, 2023at6:23 pm

    So… people aren’t coming here because a plurality of us don’t want government employees asking children, “Are you sure that you’re a little boy (or girl)”?, without parental consent. And, they’re upset that we don’t allow revisionist, reparation sympathizers to teach our children how evil white people are. Got it! Please…go to California instead!

  5. Avatar

    David B.

    October 21, 2023at6:03 am

    I know of a lot of people who are no longer vacationing in Florida since it’s become an increasingly hostile state for anyone who isn’t straight and white. As just one example, I am part of a national professional group that was looking for a location for a convening of about 100 people in November and they were looking to go somewhere warm, but the leaders of this group said that Florida was not to be considered due to the current anti-LGBTQ and anti-Black environment here – as exemplified by the travel warnings from the NAACP and Human Rights Campaign.

  6. Avatar

    James F Mack

    October 20, 2023at10:01 pm

    Nice try, Steve.

  7. Avatar

    Steve D

    October 20, 2023at3:26 pm

    Annie, we stopped going to the U.K. because we’re appalled that you can actually be detained for saying certain words that their political leaders deem offensive, and…oh yeah… the knifings which are increasingly happening in tourist areas and the tube. So, we’re even.

  8. Avatar

    Annie Smith

    October 19, 2023at4:07 pm

    My relatives from the U.K.will no longer come to Florida. They were regular visitors. Once, sometimes twice a year. They are appalled by our political leaders, our gun laws (or lack of) and will not be back.

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