Tourism Indicators cover total air traffic passengers coming in and out of Northwest Florida airports as well as local bed tax collections.
The Total Air Traffic Passengers reports monthly passengers for four airports in the Northwest Florida region. Seasonality in air traffic is evident when viewing the number of passengers by month, year and airport. While there is a slight increase in the general number of passengers over time, the season trend once exhibited before covid has now been skewed.
As cases made it to Florida, international travel suffered immensely. A tremendous dip in passengers in 2020 seemed to begin around February and hit an all-time low in April.
On a positive note, vaccinations were widely available to most of the public by May, which began to normalize public health precautions put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID. Airports such as Destin Fort Walton Beach, Pensacola International and Northwest Florida Beaches International all exhibited an increase in air passengers that surpassed the prior level. Mobile Regional unfortunately did not experience the same positive returns.
In April 2021, Northwest Florida Beaches International peaked with 143,654 passengers, but began to decline the following month. Pensacola International had more passengers than Destin Fort Walton over time, but around June 2019, there was an influx in passengers for Destin, making those the two airports with the highest volume of passengers – both airports continuing a growth in passengers.
Bed Tax Collections
Bed Taxes are used to grow tourism and contribute development within the region. Bed tax collections were surprisingly not influenced much by COVID. Values were already increasing over time, with seasonal trends exhibiting some volatility. Walton county outpaced Bay in tax growth by mid-2019 and continued to do so, peaking in July 2020 at $7,044,752 collected.
Definitions and How it's Measured
Total air traffic passengers is the total number of enplanement and de-planement passengers by airport. This means that people flying in and out of a specific airport are included in this statistic. Bed tax collections are fees collected by a city, county or other municipality for each night someone rents from a temporary lodging, like a hotel. Air traffic passenger data comes directly from the airport's own data collection and bed tax data is reported by each county.
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