In addition to being Florida’s No. 1 industry, tourism is a pillar of economic growth in Alachua County. From 2016 to 2019, total visitor spending increased from $719 million to $841 million, a growth of 17% over the 4 year period.
Direct Visitor Spending by Category (2019)
- Lodging: $205.1 million
- Ground Transportation: $316.8 million
- Food & Beverage: $186.2 million
- Shopping: $87.7 million
- Entertainment & Recreation: $45.3 million
In Alachua County, visitor spending supports 9,729 jobs, providing $190.8 million in wages and $1,059.8 million in total business spending.
Research provided by Visit Florida Economic Impact of Tourism 2019 via Rockport Analytics and Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Bed Tax Collections and Impact
The Tourist Development Tax (TDT), or bed tax, strengthens our local economy by supporting Alachua County’s tourism industry. Anyone who offers accommodations for short term rental (six months or less) is required to collect and remit Tourist Development Tax, which is 5% of total taxable rental receipts. TDT is an add-on tax and is collected at the time accommodation charges are collected.
In Alachua County, TDT collections have increased by 45% since 2013, and in 2019 hit a record-setting $5.528 million – indicating a robust growth in the tourism lodging sector. Bed tax funding in Alachua County is diversified across multiple investments, including:
• PARTNERSHIPS Financial support is provided to the Gainesville Sports Commission, grants to dozens of cultural and nature-based attractions and event producers, sporting activities, and conference and meeting planners. In 2019, over 831,000 residents and visitors participated in more than 533 arts, nature and culture programs funded through Tourist Development Taxes.
• MARKETING AND ADVERTISING The experienced team of communications professionals at Visit Gainesville, Alachua County leverage the tax with strategic and targeted marketing and advertising to potential visitors and meeting planners across multiple platforms including web, digital, print, radio, television, social media, and more. Professional memberships and associations include the Florida Society of Association Executives (FSAE), Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP), Meeting Planners International (MPI), Visit Florida and Visit Natural North Florida.
• CAPITAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS such as $7 million to build Champions Park in Newberry, a 16-field baseball complex, the Hal Brady Recreation Center complex in the City of Alachua, and the Cade Museum
in Gainesville. Tourist tax was used for the recent purchase of Canterbury Equestrian park which is being renovated into the future Alachua County Agriculture and Equestrian Center.
The “What’s Good” weekly event guide received the state’s highest honor, the “Henry Award,” in the category of Consumer Resource Communications from Visit Florida at the Flagler Award ceremony.
Named for Henry Flagler, the Flagler Awards recognize outstanding tourism marketing in Florida and honors individuals and organizations that help maintain and improve Florida’s position as one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. A panel of 11 judges evaluated and scored nearly 200 entries submitted in 18 different categories. The highest scoring entry in each category receives the coveted Henry Award.
Visitors often ask, “what’s good to do around here?” during their stay. We never run out of exciting ways to answer that question. In fact, Alachua County leverages the bed tax to market and promote our destination by supporting “What’s Good” — our nature, culture, arts, and sports organizations. In turn, this creates exceptional venues, programs and recreational opportunities for visitors and residents alike.
What’s Good. Investing In Our Community
Alachua County is proud to be the wellspring of the University of Florida Gator Nation and home to so much more. Invest the time to go birding on our more than 100 miles of trails, to paddle the Santa Fe, to make a splash in the springs, to bike the Hawthorne Trail, to take in a world-class show at one of our many theaters, to visit our parks and museums, to go antiquing in Micanopy, or to experience the area’s rich musical heritage kept alive and thriving with live local music on dozens of stages.
With the restaurant scene gaining national attention and new pints on tap at our local breweries, dozens of annual festivals and events, and the friendliest people in Florida, there is always more to explore right here at home.
Take the time to enjoy all that our community has to offer, and you too can experience the positive benefits of travel, discover new favorite places, create enduring memories and find opportunities to share what’s good with our visitors.
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 352-374-5260.
Figures are based on spending by visitors during 2019, including domestic out-of-state visitors, international visitors, and Florida residents who traveled at least 50 miles to the destination, including both day and overnight trips.
Sources: Rockport Analytics, Bureau of Economic Analysis