Visit Gainesville, Alachua County, the County’s tourism division, is honoring National Travel and Tourism Week, an annual industry tradition celebrating the value travel holds for our economy, businesses, personal well-being, and more. National Tourism Week joins tourism professionals from across the nation as the industry focuses on “The Future of Tourism” with newly released County-level tourism economic impact data. A proclamation in celebration of this week will be read at the Tuesday, May 10, 2022, Alachua County Commission Meeting.
Alachua County’s key data and findings for visitors who stayed in paid overnight accommodations in 2021 include:
Visitors generated over $630 million in economic impact in 2021.
Visitors spent over $406 million in Alachua County on lodging, entertainment, dining, shopping, groceries, and transportation in 2021.
Alachua County attracted 1,217,100 visitors that stayed in paid accommodations in 2021.
Visitors to Alachua County generated over 1.3 million room nights in paid accommodations.
Jobs supported by Alachua County visitors generated $212 million in wages and salaries for local jobs in 2021.
Visitors generated over $61 million in state and local tax revenue in 2021.
“Alachua County’s investment of tourist development tax into programs and tactics that enhance tourism and visitor spending has created a thriving tourism industry in the County,” said Alachua County Chair and Tourist Development Council Chair Marihelen Wheeler. “There is much to celebrate this week as we look to the future of tourism in Alachua County.”
A robust travel industry provides significant economic and quality of life benefits for the County. Alachua County visitation has rebounded from the effects of the pandemic, with lodging income and occupancy surpassing pre-pandemic levels and generating $134 million in direct lodging revenue and 1.4 million rooms booked in the past 12 months.
Travel is a foundation of strong local growth and development. In recent years, Alachua County has welcomed nearly a dozen new hotels. The County currently has 64 hotels and motels providing 5,800 rooms, a thriving bed and breakfast district, campsites, and hundreds of short-term vacation rentals, contributing to the overall lodging inventory. Room occupancy at hotels and motels was over 78% in March, meaning, on average, 4,524 rooms were booked nightly.
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“The future of travel will be a consistent driver of Alachua County’s economic advancement and workforce expansion, driving us toward a more prosperous future,” said Tourism Development Manager Jessica Hurov. “We have recently had historically high visitation to the County. We are excited to further growth trends in our industry through the significant County investments, destination enhancement, and marketing projects in the coming months and years.”
Alachua County deploys a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to increasing tourism through the investment of tourist development tax into County-wide capital infrastructure projects; marketing and advertising strategies deployed to targeted regional and national audiences; grant programs and funding support to arts, nature, and culture organizations, attractions and event producers; outreach and sales to conference and meeting planners; support of participatory sporting activities including the Gainesville Sports Commission; hosting travel writers, supporting film crews; and more.