Charlotte County tourism exceeded expectations in 2021 based on tourism tax revenue collected each year by the county’s visitor bureau.

The Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor and Convention Bureau released its latest Tourist Development Tax (TDT) results this week.

The bureau’s sales and marketing efforts brought in almost $6.1 million dollars during Fiscal Year 2020/2021 — Oct. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021.

That’s up $1.6 million from the previous year.

“Our team is ecstatic with the results from this year,” said Sean Doherty, bureau tourism director. “They are a testament to being a premier outdoor recreation destination that offers a variety of healthy, outdoor activities and adventures.”

Doherty went on to say that the results underscore the efforts of local industry partners and their perseverance to keep doors open during the pandemic.

The tax is a 5% charge on lodging facilities’ rental revenue including hotels, motels, vacation homes, condos, and campgrounds.

Sixty percent of the revenues collected are used to fund tourism bureau operations which include marketing, sales and public relations efforts.

The local hospitality industry also saw an increase in visitor traffic at restaurants and attractions.

The bureau’s official website, PureFlorida.com, has experienced growth in traffic and number of inquiries received.

Looking forward, Doherty told The Daily Sun that there are still many uncertainties regarding how travelers will react as more destinations open up fully and start marketing again.

“How long will it take for visitors to feel comfortable that COVID-19 is in the rearview and are OK with visiting more crowded, metro destinations,” he said. “Over the course of the pandemic, how many first-time visitors did we make a positive enough impression on to have them come back regularly as repeat visitors?”

Doherty also proposed how international travel might evolve especially now that the land borders are back open to Canada.

“Having said all that, I can generally say it will be our goal to match or exceed this year’s TDT,” he said. “We feel we have an aggressive marketing and sales plan that will provide us the opportunity to achieve that goal.”

”Best Small Market Event of the Year” award

The Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor and Convention Bureau also announced it has received the “Best Small Market Event of the Year” award from the Florida Sports Foundation.

They received the award for being the host destination of the Association of Pickleball Professionals Tour (APP Tour) at the PicklePlex of Punta Gorda in January 2021.

“This award signifies the partnership we have with the APP Tour, PicklePlex of Punta Gorda and our hospitality industry,” said Sean Walter, Visitor Bureau sports business development director.

The APP has agreed to bring the event back to Punta Gorda for the next three years through 2024.

The 2021 Punta Gorda Open Series included 700 participants leading to 2,500 hotel room nights and $2 million in economic impact, as well as a large impact on social media impressions and views.

The economic impact is an analysis that examines the effect of an event on the local economy based on changes in business revenue, business profits, personal wages and jobs, among other things.

“We are fortunate that our community,” Walter said, “and visitors will continue to see this competition up close and in person for years to come.”

For more information about Charlotte County tourism and attractions, go to PureFlorida.com.

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