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Tampa Bay Tourism Booms

Aquarium tank with people viewing fish
Visit Tampa Bay
The Florida Aquarium

Tampa Bay is experiencing a tourism boom, with a 13 percent increase in outside visitors. New figures show the industry brought in $329 million in taxes during the last year alone.  With $30 million being brought in from outside profits during the last fiscal year, the city is reaping the benefits of its many facelift projects.

Santiago Corrada, CEO and President of Visit Tampa Bay, attributes this upswing to a growing interest in Tampa and a 26 percent increase in bed taxes over the last two years.  The Bed Tax, or the Tourism Development Tax, is a five-percent levy placed on overnight stays or short-term rentals. In the past, the monies from this tax have gone into the Amalie Arena and the Raymond James Stadium.  Though small changes can be seen city-wide, Corrada is interested in the impact tourism can have on Florida as a whole.  

"We are driving visitation to Hillsborough County, Tampa and Tampa Bay," Corrada said, "and that means Florida."

With its beaches and sunshine, tourism is a reliable breadwinner for Tampa, but in recent years the city has adopted events that cater to the sports crowd.  Along with the NCAA Frozen Four Hockey Tournament and direct flight deals with Lufthansa Airlines, Tampa is a finalist to host either the 2019 or 2020 Super Bowl.

"If the industry is doing well and we're creating jobs, that means we're putting people to work here locally that are making wages from visitors to our destination," Corrada said, "That's a win-win for everybody."

He says tourism has increased 13 percent in the last year.

WUSF News intern Ariana Matos is a senior studying mass communications at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Before joining WUSF, Matos worked at the USF’s student newspaper, The Oracle, as a correspondent and as editor of the Lifestyle section.
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