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What’s ahead for international tourism in Pinellas County

Margie Manning

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Photo credit: Visit St. Pete/Clearwater

A travel data provider expects an 18.26 percent jump in international tourism to St. Petersburg and Clearwater by 2023.

Many of the new visitors will be coming from Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, according to newly released projections from Tourism Economics, which is tracking international visitation to the area for the Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.

Tourism is big business in Pinellas County, with an annual economic impact of more than $10.3 billion. Visit St. Pete/Clearwater is a department of Pinellas County government, and the official tourism marketing and management organization for the St. Petersburg and Clearwater area.

Total international tourism declined 3.94 percent between 2013 and 2018, the new report said. It did not offer reasons for the drop.

There were 516,000 international visitors to St. Pete/Clearwater in 2018, with 303,000 of them, or  58.7 percent, coming from Canada. Those visitors also accounted for the largest amount of spending in the area, according to the data.

Another 32 percent came from Europe, with the largest number of European visitors hailing from the United Kingdom, Germany and France.

Source: Visit St. Pete/Clearwater

While visitors from Asia made up only a small percentage of the total visitors in 2018 — just 3.1 percent — those numbers are likely to increase in the next four years.

The data projects a 53.85 percent increase in tourists from Indonesia between 2018 and 2023, a 48.28 percent increase from Thailand, and a 47.06 percent increase from Malaysia. However, the actual number of increased visitors from those countries will be relatively small, because none of those countries are currently the in top 15 markets of origin for St. Pete/Clearwater.

Among the top 15 markets of origin, the biggest gains in the next four years will come from China, Brazil and Canada, according to the projections.

Source: Visit St. Pete/Clearwater

Overall, Tourism Economics is forecasting St. Pete/Clearwater will see 541,000 international visitors this year, gradually increasing to 610,000 international visitors by 2023.

The data will be updated twice annually, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater said.

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