No one will be surprised to learn that lodging tax revenues are up in Gulf County.
But triple digits are triple digits, and when it comes to the month of April, it’s practically been quadruple digits.
Adrianne Glass, marketing director for the Tourist Development Council, said April revenues from the 5 percent tax on short-term rentals came in at a whopping 996 percent above April 2000, a month when all vacation rentals were forced to shut down the coronavirus pandemic.
Year to date, revenue from the lodging tax has been running nearly 135 percent ahead of this point in 2019-20.
During the last fiscal year, Oct. 2019 through Sept. 2020, the tax brought in about $2.3 million, a healthy rebound from $1.7 million brought in during 2018-19, a year plagued by the hurricane.
Last year’s total was about $200,000 more than the year prior, when it ran $2.1 million in 2017-18.
“Collections are up 194 percent from 2019 and 137 percent up from 2018, which is pre-Hurricane Michael,” Glass said.
She said the TDC has been putting out Leave No Trace messaging through social media, radio and other outlets. “We have just put new signage at prominent beach access points to remind people to Leave No Trace on our beaches,” Glass said.
The TDC is also holding a Keep It Wild are contest for children ages 5 to 14, that lasts until June 15.
“Show us how you keep it wild while sharing the beach with our local wildlife!” read the rules.
Children are asked to send in an original drawing by June 15 to LeaveNoTrace@Visitgulf.com. The TDC will then select six artists' creations to be displayed at the Forgotten Coast Sea Turtle Festival.
“Then, you can vote for your favorite via our Facebook page,” Glass aid.
Winners will be announced on August 2. All artists must have a signed release form from parents/guardians to be included in the contest.
The TDC’s fall campaign will kick off in mid-July to help visitation later on throughout the year, with the officials launch date July 18.
“We are very excited about this campaign and the message that it will portray to visitors,” she said. “At the same time, we will have a local Tourism Advocacy Campaign to show the importance of tourism in Gulf County. We will be hosting events, among other things, for our locals to join.
“We also will be celebrating our Tourism Industry during this time. They have worked tirelessly throughout the last year and deserve that recognition,” Glass said.