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Overnight guests generate a significant economic impact to Escambia County, and that number increases every year.
In 2016, more than 2 million tourists visited Escambia County, resulting in nearly $22 million in tax revenue and nearly $800 million in direct visitor spending – critical revenue paying for services we all rely on including education, transportation, infrastructure and public safety.
Those are huge numbers, but what do they mean for us? For starters, more money in our hard-earned paychecks every month. Tourism is such an enormous economic driver for Florida, that we don’t have to pay a personal income tax, unlike other states such as California, with rates as high as 13.3 percent. Visitors also pay taxes, and 41 percent of all taxes collected by Escambia County are directly attributed to tourism. In fact, Escambia County receives $3 for every $1 spent marketing Pensacola.
Businesses large and small benefit from tourism, too, and the positive effects span many industries outside of hospitality. Local Escambia County businesses receive $107 for every $1 invested in Pensacola tourism promotion. Grocery stores, gas stations, bakeries, boutiques and other businesses all reap the benefits from increased visitation to our county.
Our overnight guests pay a tax on their hotel room or rental property, and in 2016 that revenue totaled more than $10 million! Some of that revenue is dedicated toward promoting Pensacola across the globe, but a large portion funds programs that enhance our quality of life, such as community events and our flourishing Historic District.
Visitor spending also benefits some unexpected industries. While food & beverage and lodging are large categories, retail, recreation and transportation also receive a significant chunk of revenue thanks to tourists.
Our county’s population continues to grow each year, so it’s important to ensure residents have access to a network of reliable, high-paying jobs. Thanks to the hospitality industry, 22,300+ Escambia County citizens are employed – think hotel pastry chefs, accountants at a restaurant, sales managers for top resorts and more. Tourism is directly responsible for 17 percent of Escambia County jobs. Many Pensacola residents join the hospitality industry in an entry-level position, learning various “soft skills” and mastering the art of customer service before moving up the corporate ladder and becoming general managers, CEOs and top executives.
Pensacola’s higher education institutions, University of West Florida and Pensacola State College, boast top hospitality programs which attract thousands of talented young people to Escambia County every year. Many graduates continue living in Pensacola after finishing school – paying taxes, spending money at local businesses and enhancing our tourism industry with their expertise.