INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — COVID 19? It didn’t seem to stop more visitors from coming here last year than the year before, based county bed-tax receipts.
The county collected a record amount — nearly $4.5 million — from its 4% tourist- development tax on hotel rooms and other short-term rentals, according to the county Budget Department. Receipts are for the 2021-22 budget year, that ended Sept. 30.
That’s up about 23%, or $838,300 over the previous year, when it collected $3.6 million.
Last year’s $4,498,960 is nearly 64% higher than the county predicted in its 2021-22 budget.
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“Although I don’t have any one specific reason for the increased tourist-tax collections, I’m sure our Tourism Development Council partners have helped to drive visitors to the area,” said county Budget Director Kristin Daniels. “At the last TDC meeting, the Treasure Coast Sports Commission mentioned their significant increase in sporting events that have come to Indian River County, and the Chambers (of Commerce) elaborated on their marketing campaigns and how successful they’ve been.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, many people came to Indian River County seeking extensive outdoor recreational activities, Daniels said.
“We’ve seen an increase in repeat visitors that initially came to Indian River County during the pandemic,” Daniels explained. “That is when we first started experiencing a large increase in our tourism revenue.”
Seven local organizations will share almost $1.9 million in tourism-tax revenue in the next budget year thanks to the uptick in bed-tax revenue. The Indian River County and Sebastian River Area chambers of commerce and the Treasure Coast Sports Commission will share in the bulk of the money, with four other nonprofits also receiving funds.