TAMPA, Fla. – On Feb. 1, tens of thousands of rabid football fans will descend on the city of Tampa for Super Bowl XLIII, which will be held this year at Raymond James Stadium.
And most all those people will need a place to stay.
Hernando County Tourism Coordinator Sue Rupe is hoping many of those visitors will make the 45-minute ride north to stay in local hotels.
The lodgings close to the game site will be scooped up fast, Rupe said. And the number of people who will rent out their homes for exorbitant prices will be limited.
Rupe said she has already begun the local campaign to lure people here, where hotel owners will be waiting for the football fans with open arms and probably less expensive room rates than they will get in Tampa.
"We're asking the hotels to come up with Super Bowl packages and link them on our Web site," Rupe said.
In the works are Super Bowl promotions with the local media and ad exposure in the mobile visitor's guide, which will be promoted on television. The guide would feature Hernando County hotels.
Rupe said the tourism council has also suggested hotel owners contact some of the limousine drivers and shuttle buses to work out arrangements to transport people back and forth from the stadium.
The last time the Super Bowl was held in Tampa, back in 2001, local hotels experienced some good crowds, she said.
The event couldn't come at a better time.
Local hotels are experiencing slow customer traffic, as borne out in the latest bed tax revenue statistics.
"I think people are just staying a little bit closer to home, both with their pocketbooks and their travels," Rupe said.
The total amount of tourism tax revenue collected and paid to the county in November was $24,774.
That amount reflects bed tax money from the previous month.
That's down from $29,354 in November 2007.
That compares to $31,941 for that same month in 2006; $29,682 in 2005 and $34,452 in 2004.
"We're down," said Rupe, attributing it to the economy. "Traffic coming into Florida is slow. All my hotels are struggling."
The county tacks on a 3% bed tax on people who stay in local hotels, motels, mobile home parks, recreational vehicle parks, campgrounds and any other sleeping accommodations rented for a period six months or less.
The tourist development tax is often referred to as the resort tax, bed tax, local option tourist tax, transient rental tax.
But whatever it's called, it still nets the county 3% and is used mostly by out-of-county people making brief pit stops in Hernando County.
Source: Tampa Tribune