PBC tourism tax collections grew by 7.8 percent in February

Despite a less-than-stellar start, Palm Beach County’s winter travel season is showing some signs of improvement.

Tourism tax collections were up in February. The gross sale of hotel rooms is also on the rise.  And early indications show March was also strong for the tourism industry.071414 biz peoplexp 04

But industry leaders say they remain “cautious” about the 2016 tourism outlook.

“We are watching it closely,” said Glenn Jergensen, executive director of the county’s Tourist Development Council.

County tourism tax collections totaled $6.6 million in February, up 7.8 percent from February 2015, officials said.

Since Oct. 1, the gross sale of hotel rooms has grown by 4.2 percent, tourism officials said.

The number of passengers using Palm Beach International Airport also grew. Roughly 622,000 passengers passed through the airport in February, up 6.6 percent from February 2015.112614 weather 1

But the industry has seen losses in other key areas.

The countywide hotel occupancy rate stood at 85.8 percent in February, down 4 percent from the February 2015 level.

Another key benchmark for the tourism industry — revenue per available hotel room — fell by 3.8 percent during the month of February. The benchmark, which gives an average of what visitors pay based on number of rooms available, is used by local hoteliers to evaluate the state of the tourism industry here.

Jergensen said a surge in hotel construction contributed to the drop in occupancy. Roughly 644 new hotel rooms were available in February, and those rooms hadn’t been included in the previous year’s tally, he said.