Local hotel owner says business is rebounding after months of low occupancy from red tide

Local hotel owner says business is rebounding after months of low occupancy from red tide

SARASOTA (WWSB) -Suncoast hotels may be seeing the beginning of a rebound, after hitting an all-time low for visitors.

Visit Sarasota County just received new information that shows the lowest occupancy rate ever for the month of September. But, some local hotels are starting to see business pick back up.

Siesta Key Palms Hotel is just one of the many hotels within Sarasota County that saw a decrease in occupancy over the past couple of months due to the red tide.

"It was dead in September and August. I guess that's when the big height of it all hit. But we are definitely seeing more people coming in it's filling up during the week which is unusual, it's getting sold out on the weekends. Our occupancy is as strong as it was last year, if not a little stronger," said Siesta Key Palms Hotel Owner, Henry Rodriguez.

Visit Sarasota County Vice President, Erin Duggan, said the occupancy was down 16% in August and 35% in September compared to last year.

But she said because there are so many hotels in the area, the Tourist Development Tax, which is used to pay for things like marketing, beach maintenance, and some grants, wasn't drastically affected.

"Because of the additional inventory we do have additional bed tax collection coming in. We just want to make sure that we continue to make sure to keep the average daily rate high because you don't necessarily want to have room price drops because that will again impact the tourist development tax that's collected as well," Duggan said.

She said they plan to increase occupancy through marketing.

"We're always looking at our ad campaigns and we're looking at where we're seeing high visitor spends come from so that we can get quality over quantity," said Duggan.

Rodriguez said the next few months are looking as bright as the Florida sun, "As long as red tide stays away I think we're going to be okay. As long as there is cold up north and this is what you get down here I think people are really going to enjoy it."

Visit Sarasota County is also having their sales team focus on reaching out to people to host different events at local hotels such as conferences and weddings.

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