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An increase in Hillsborough County tourism numbers is expected to continue into next year

Hillsborough County Center building
Hillsborough County
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This fiscal year, Hillsborough County saw a comeback from the blow the COVID-19 pandemic had on tourism in 2020.

Tourism revenue is up 7% more than before the pandemic.

This fiscal year, Hillsborough County saw a comeback from the blow the COVID-19 pandemic had on tourism in 2020.

Visit Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County’s marketing management organization, collected $38.4 million, a 7.04% increase from 2019.

Hotel room revenue also saw a significant increase from $452 million in the 2020 fiscal year to $642 million this year.

Events like the Super Bowl and WrestleMania gave Tampa a particular boost in visitors for 2021, but Visit Tampa Bay President and CEO Santiago Corrada said it’s likely Tampa will keep seeing improvement without them.

“When those events happened, they were not record setting months for us. After they happened, we've had record setting months,” said Corrada. “You know, they're critical, but the days where we needed a big event to carry a month isn't the case anymore.”

That’s also including concerns regarding the COVID-19 omicron variant.

“We put so many procedures in place that they've carried through to some extent,” said Corrada. “Whether it was the original pandemic, delta, omicron, the procedures and safety measures were put in place.”

As of Dec. 10, there are 241 conventions planned for 2022, according to Visit Tampa Bay. Last year, there were 123 planned for 2021.

“We really came back a lot faster and a lot stronger than other parts of the country in other parts of the state,” said Corrada.

Corrada says while conventions and large events have historically been a focus for Hillsborough County, the agency has started marketing toward leisure travel as well.

Jorgelina Manna-Rea is a WUSF Rush Family/USF Zimmerman School Digital News intern for the fall of 2021, her second straight semester with WUSF.