Florida’s Amelia Island Tops 500,000 Visitors for First Time

Published on : Thursday, November 7, 2013

visitfloridaThe Amelia Island Tourist Development Council (TDC) today announced a record 504,300 visitors to the island in fiscal year 2013 – an increase of nearly 10 percent (9.7) over 2012 and a new annual record for the popular Florida destination.  The finding was among a number of significant results from two recent research reports confirming remarkable third quarter and year-to-date increases in visitation and economic impact on Amelia Island.  Conducted by Research Data Services, Inc. and Smith Travel Research, the studies show double-digit increases on Amelia Island in almost every metric, including the number of overnight guests, economic impact, hotel occupancy and others, putting the island well ahead of its own 2012 figures and those of other Florida destinations.


“Amelia Island’s extraordinary tourism growth over the past fiscal year is a result of consistent and highly targeted marketing,” said Walter J. Klages, Ph.D. of Research Data Services, Inc.  “It is unique in execution and results because it is supported by effective imagery, public relations, and advertising efforts.”


According to the Third Quarter 2013 Visitor Profile released by Research Data Services, Inc., the record 504,300 overnight guests who visited Amelia Island between October 2012 and September 2013 generated a total economic impact of more than $422 million, which is a 17.1 percent increase from last fiscal year.  In the third quarter of 2013 alone, the number of overnight guests increased 13.6 percent to more than 143,000, resulting in an impact on the local economy of more than $121 million – a 23.5 percent increase over 2012.


The study also shows an increase in occupancy in August (16.5 percent) and September (11.7 percent), and an increase in the Average Daily Rate (ADR) for all three months – 18.1 percent in July, 13.7 percent in August and 10.8 percent in September.  Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar) also increased each month – 15.6 percent in July, 32.4 percent in August and 23.8 percent in September. The strongest quarterly growth in FY2013 occurred among in-state travelers, with overnight visitation from within Florida up 15.4 percent.  There was also a 12.6 percent increase in foreign visitation and 11 percent increase in visitors from the northeast.


A second study by Smith Travel Research (STR), a recognized leader for lodging industry benchmarking and research, shows similarly noteworthy increases.  According to STR, in a year-to-date comparison with 18 other southeast destinations, Amelia Island is the only one to show double-digit growth in occupancy, ADR and demand.  Amelia Island also had the highest ADR of all coastal destinations, with the exception of the Florida Keys.


The report also indicates year-over-year increases for Amelia Island in occupancy (10.4 percent), ADR (10.8 percent), RevPAR (22.2 percent), room revenue (26.4 percent), rooms available (3.4 percent) and rooms sold (14.2 percent). By comparison, occupancy for the same period increased 1.6 percent in St. John’s County, 3.3 percent in Jacksonville, 4.2 percent in Jacksonville Beaches and 4.4 percent in Savannah.


Amelia Island’s growth percentage in Room Revenue and RevPar was also significantly higher than any other destination.  RevPar on island increased 22.2 percent, with the next closest competitor (Jacksonville Beaches) at 13.1 percent increase. Room revenue increased by 26.4 percent on Amelia Island, compared to a 14.1 percent increase for Jacksonville Beaches.


“Florida tourism as a whole is on the upswing, but Amelia Island continues to outperform destinations throughout the southeast thanks in large part to the outstanding efforts of the TDC and its marketing team and tremendous support from local industry partners,” said Danny Leeper, Chairman of the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council. “And a thriving tourism industry on Amelia Island is great for Nassau County’s economy.”


In addition to the two reports, the TDC has confirmed a total of $93.5 million in taxable rental receipts from October 2012 to September 2013. This is an increase of 19.7 percent from the previous fiscal year and exceeds the record set in FY2008.


According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Amelia Island tourism industry added 709 jobs in the first quarter of 2013, with 415 new jobs coming from the lodging industry alone. The average wage in the lodgings sector was almost $29,000.


AITDC is funded by a local bed tax, which is paid by visitors staying in hotels, condos, bed and breakfast inns, and vacation rentals.

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