That spike in attendance contributed to a $2 billion economic boost to Pinellas County, according to an economic impact study released this week. The study found that 44,440 jobs were supported by the aquarium over the four-year period, or about 11,000 jobs a year.
The study looks at the four-year period from 2012 to 2015. In 2012, after the release of “Dolphin Tale,” aquarium attendance more than doubled, jumping to 705,506 visits from 312,372 visits the prior year.
Nearly 2.6 million visitors went to the aquarium between 2012 and 2015. The study found 49 percent of the visitors came from outside of Florida. The economic impact study estimated about 2.2 million hotel room nights were booked because of aquarium visitors during the time period.
“Many groups have worked with us in achieving this impact,” said David Yates, CEO of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Yates said the state of Florida, the city of Clearwater, and Pinellas County, as well as Visit St.Petersburg/Clearwater, “played important roles in reaching this level of success.” Yates also pointed to corporate partners — Bright House Networks, Duke Energy and Coca-Cola – and partners Alcon Entertainment, Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson, as being “key partners in creating this impact.”
“All of this adds up to global promotion of our mission of marine life rescue, education and inspiration,” he said in a statement.
The aquarium recently released a web series called “Rescue-Clearwater.” The series aims to highlight the work being done at the aquarium each day.
Founded in 1972, the aquarium is planning an expansion. According to the study, “the local and regional benefits generated by CMA in Clearwater and Pinellas County will undoubtedly increase as CMA continues to improve its facilities and programming.”