Bradenton Area Enjoys Tourism Surge



An increasing number of tourists visited Manatee County in 2017, and they spent generously while they were here. But hospitality leaders in the area say they most want to make sure these guests come back as soon as possible.

Statistics released last week by the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau report a 2-percent spike in visitors compared to 2016, with a total of 3,160,700 in total coming into the county. That helped support 26,600 jobs and generate nearly $1.25 billion in economic impact, a greater-than-5-percent jump in both those financial statistics.

Elliott Falcione, executive director of the BACVB, sounded enthusiastic about the numbers. He also told SRQ that his agency remains focused on making sure the visitors come back again and again. The bureau sees dividends from outreach to new visitors to the area. “First-timers to the Bradenton area return within 11 months more than 94 percent of the time,” he says.

Further figures released by the BACVB show that 721,400 of the visitors here stayed in some type of commercial lodging, a 4-percent increase over 2016, while 1,187,300 were classified as in-home visitors, a 2.7-percent increase. Direct visitor expenditures jumped 5.5 percent in total. The bulk of that actually came from day-trippers.

Couples made up 51 percent of visiting parties and 73.4 percent of visitors came here on planned vacations, with an average 4.7-night stay. And an overwhelming 97.8 percent of visitors surveyed by the BACVB reported satisfaction with the visit.

Karen Riley-Love, founder of the Anna Maria Wedding Association and AMU Beach Weddings, says she’s been excited to see the region become an increasing locale for destination weddings. “We also see an increase in ecotourism,” she says. “We see those friendly faces and more people interested in going on turtle walks, beaches and sustainability. Those are the kind of tourists who come back year after year to the same community because they hope to keep it vital.”

Riley-Love, also a board of directors member for the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, last week won the annual Tourism Ambassador Award from the BACVB. The bureau also gave the Ed Hunzeker Hospitality Award to Dr. Patrick Moreo, dean of the College of Hospitality and Tourism Leadership at the University of South Florida.”

Statistics courtesy BACVB.

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