Pinellas County Tax Collector Charles W. Thomas recently announced that his office had raked in record-breaking tourist development tax collections for short-term hotel and rental stays for the 2019 fiscal year.

Eleven out of the last 12 months reached all-time highs.

Collections for the fiscal year totaled nearly $63.1 million, surpassing the $60 million threshold for the first time in the county’s history. Collections increased 5.63% over the previous fiscal year.

"These tax dollars are a win for our tourism economy in Pinellas County," said Thomas. "Our tourist development tax team is dedicated to collecting every possible dollar owed, especially knowing these tax dollars are used to make our community an even better place to visit."

The tourist development tax, also known as the bed tax, is a 6% tax on accommodations such as hotels and rental homes rented for six months or less.

The Board of County Commissioners decides where these tax dollars go, from beach restoration projects to sports complexes, museums, aquariums and more. One of the primary recipients is the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, which promotes and advertises the county’s tourism. Other recent projects partially funded by tourist development taxes include expansions at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Spring break was especially popular with tourists in 2019. In March, tourist development tax collections topped $9.5 million, marking the first time collections surpassed $9 million in a single month. May, April, and January experienced the highest annual growth, with collections increasing 13.2%, 11.1% and 7.5% respectively compared to 2018.

For more information about tourist development taxes, visit www.taxcollect.com/tourist/.