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Events in Daytona Beach and West Volusia celebrated the record-breaking economic impact that tourism had in Volusia County in 2017 and helped mark National Travel & Tourism Week, which this year was May 6-12.

The May 9 events kicked off that morning with a crowd of about 200 at the new Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach, where attendees were given some eye-popping statistics.

According to the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, in 2017, overnight visitors spent a record-breaking $6.09 billion in Volusia County, an increase of better than 1.5 percent over the preceding year. Tourism generated an estimated 55,200 jobs overall with a $734 million payroll that grew by more than 33 percent over the previous year.

The lodging industry generated 3,450 jobs in Volusia County, representing a $75 million payroll and a year-to-year increase of 34-plus percent. In 2017, a total of 10 million visitors came to Volusia County; half of them stayed in hotels and motels and half with friends and family, representing an increase of more than 2 percent, the CVB reported.

“Tourism is a vital part of our economy and we are very excited about everything that is happening in our market,” CVB Executive Director Lori Campbell Baker said in a news release.

The event was presented by Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia County CEO/President Bob Davis. Among the many industry leaders attending were the executive directors of all three tourism bureaus — Baker, Debbie Meihls with the Southeast Volusia Advertising Authority, and Georgia Turner with the West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority.

That evening, about 75 “tourism partners” — hoteliers and other providers of tourism-related businesses, mostly from West Volusia — chowed down on fried-catfish dinners at Highland Park Fish Camp near DeLand.

WVTAA’s Turner, whose organization sponsored the event, said West Volusia’s tourism tax collections were much better than those at the other tourism bureaus in both March (up 13.5 percent over March of last year) and fiscal year-to-date (up 15.43 percent).

“Our budget this year included [bed-tax revenue from] the Courtyard by Marriott in Downtown DeLand,” Turner said. “It’s not even open yet, and we’re still up that much.”

The Halifax Area Advertising Authority, run by the Daytona Beach Area CVB, fell 3.7 percent in March, but was up 4.8 percent fiscal year-to-date. The Southeast Volusia authority was up 10.1 percent in March and 4.8 percent year-to-date.

“I’m pleased,” Turner told The Beacon. “For a county our size, it’s very impressive what’s going on all over the county.”

Volusia County levies a 6-percent tax on hotel rooms, campgrounds and other short-term rentals. Half of that revenue helps fund operations at the Ocean Center, and the other half is given to the tourism bureau’s district in which it was collected. The WVTAA district includes 14 communities from Seville through DeLand to Deltona and DeBary.

Turner foresees more good news ahead in West Volusia bed-tax collections. Not only will the Marriott open soon, but the DeLand Hotel opened on East New York Avenue last September, an expansion is underway at the Artisan Downtown hotel, and a new Holiday Inn Express is planned for DeLand’s south side, near the Country Club Corners shopping center.

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