|By Ted Jackovics, Tampa Tribune,
Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 07, 2012--TAMPA -- Hillsborough County's visitors industry benefited in 2011 from an improving economy, posting increases in revenue and overnight visitors.
The county tallied 4.95 million hotel and motel guests last year, an 8.3 percent gain over the year before. Additionally, hotel and motel revenue grew by nearly 11 percent to $435 million.
The report by Tennessee-based Smith Travel Research showed the average daily rate, or average price at which booked rooms were sold, increased 2.3 percent to $87.70 in 2011.
Reports were solid on both sides of the bay. Combined reports from the Tampa and St. Petersburg areas showed a 9.2 percent increase in rooms sold in 2011 over 2010, second only to Fort Myers' 9.4 percent gain among a dozen Florida areas.
The percentage of rooms sold in Florida increased 6.3 percent in 2011 compared with a 5 percent nationwide gain in 2011 over 2010.
Local prospects for 2012 appear promising. The Republican National Convention in late August is expected to draw 50,000 visitors.
Although the Tampa Convention Center will be closed to other business for about seven weeks in preparation for the GOP event, local officials hope early arrivals for the convention could help balance the loss of visitor traffic from corporate meetings during the generally slow late-summer period.
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