PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - The land of strong rays and bronze bodies is seeing more green, as more tourists are flocking to Palm Beach County. One sign of the positive trend is reflected in bed tax numbers.
The figures the Palm Beach County Tax Collector released show that the county collected 15.5 million dollars this tourism season dating from November to April. That's compared to 14.3 million dollars the same time period a year ago, a 1.2 million dollar increase. The numbers reflect taxes collected from hotel visitors on a daily basis.
For the Marsh family from Detroit, this vacation has been a long time coming.
Jennifer Marsh says, "We haven't traveled in about 5 or 6 years. So this year, we are traveling and spending a little bit more money."
Jorge Pesquera, the President and CEO of the Palm Beach County Convention & Visitors Bureau says, "We're already up 9 percent for the year. Palm Beach County is back on track as a tourist destination."
Randy Simler is the General Manager for Johnny Longboat's. It's a restaurant located in the Ocean Mall in Riviera Beach. He says his business is also feeling the bump in business. Revenues are up 25 percent. Confidence is up so much, they just opened another restaurant in the same strip mall as Johnny Longboat's. Simler says they hired 120 people for the new restaurant.
The Palm Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau also says April represented the 18th straight month of improved hotel occupancy rates.
Granted, there are signs that residents are still hurting for jobs, such as the sign in the Ocean Mall where Johnny Longboat's is. It reads, "Not hiring. No solicitors."
But the bed tax numbers are an encouraging sign that Palm Beach County's biggest attraction and business, tourism, is back.
Even Jennifer Marsh's 9 year old daughter, Megan, is helping the economy. She's determined to get her mom to buy her the stuffed animal dolphin at the souvenir shop to remember her vacation in Florida.