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Pensacola tourism, visitor spending hit all-time highs

The number of visitors to Pensacola and Escambia County — and the amount of money they spent in the community — hit all-time highs in 2016, according to new figures released by Visit Pensacola.

Some 2.07 million tourists visited the area in 2016, a 30% increase over the 2015 total. Direct spending by those visitors totaled more than $787 million, a year-over-year increase of 16 percent.


That equates to a return of $107 in visitor spending for every dollar spent by Visit Pensacola on tourism efforts, officials said, including a 3:1 return to local governments in the form of tax revenue. Local governments also collected an additional $72 million in tourism-related property taxes from hotels, rental properties, and bed & breakfasts.

“We are seeing our tourism season grow which provides more work opportunities, jobs and creates more business opportunities for those directly and indirectly in the tourism industry,” said Visit Pensacola President Steve Hayes. “Tourism impacts everyone in the Pensacola Bay Area whether you work in the industry specifically, own a small business or are a resident of Escambia County. Our money stays local. From the time a traveler arrives in town, to the employee cashing their paycheck and spending it throughout the community, the investments that the tourism dollar makes are full circle.”

The Margaritaville Beach Hotel on Pensacola Beach. (Drew Buchanan/The Pulse)

2016’s warm winter also helped to boost tourism numbers, with a 67% year-over-year increase in November 2016 and a 100% increase for December.

More than 22,000 area jobs are directly related to tourism, accounting for an estimated 17 percent of total employment in Escambia County, officials said.

The figures are the result of several Visit Pensacola surveys and data compiled by Majority Opinion Research, an Atlanta-based firm which has tracked tourism numbers for Visit Pensacola since 2014.