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Date of Issue: February 04, 2009

Island tourism up in November, December

Occupancy of Anna Maria Island accommodation units rose in November and December, an indication that the current nationwide economic slump may not yet have affected the winter tourist season.

The Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau reported Island occupancy was at 41.3 percent for November 2008, up slightly from the 40.5 percent reported for the same month in 2007.

December occupancy also rose when compared with December 2007. The BACVB reported occupancy of Island accommodation units for December 2008 at 39.6 percent, a 2.6 percent gain from the 37 percent reported in November 2007.

For all of 2008, occupancy of Island accommodation units was virtually unchanged from 2007.

The BACVB reported a 57.6 percent occupancy rate for 2008 against a 57.5 for 2007.

For the entire BACVB area, December 2008 occupancy was at 47.2 percent, a 4.1 percent increase from December 2007, when the BACVB reported a 43.1 percent occupancy rate.

While occupancy was going up on the Island, the average daily rate was headed in the opposite direction.

BACVB statistics reported an average daily rate of $143.23 on the Island for December 2008 against $154.02 for the same month in 2007.

The year-to-date average daily rate on the Island rose from $148.99 to $151.08, a 2 percent increase.

BACVB marketing director Jennifer Grace said she’s hopeful that the figures indicate a successful winter season here, while other Florida destinations are reporting a decline in visitor arrivals.

“I think this shows that we offer value for money. We target to people who want to enjoy a nice, quiet atmosphere. We’re not Orlando, we’re not Fort Lauderdale, and we don’t want to be,” said Grace.

It also hasn’t hurt that the Island has received some favorable publicity of late in some national media.

The USAToday newspaper recently published an unsolicited travel story about the Island by a reporter who was very complimentary.

E-mails and phone calls to the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce surged after the story appeared in a December issue of the paper.

“And we are still going strong,” said AMI Chamber of Commerce president Mary Ann Brockman.

“We’re all keeping our fingers crossed. So far, so good. The cold weather up north has helped us down here,” she said.

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