The first quarter numbers are in for Amelia Island tourism, and they show one of Florida’s prime vacation destinations bouncing back from the economic drag of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All those taxable sales collections and bed tax collections were records for our performance in any given year,” Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau President Gil Langley said this week. Langley was speaking to the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners regarding the period from October 2021-January 2022.
For taxable sales, there were nearly $16 million in October, $13.4 million in November, $12.5 million in December and $9.3 million in January. That adds up to more than $51.3 million over the four months.
Bed taxes totaled nearly $800,000 for October, more than $67,000 in November, nearly $627,000 in December and close to $466,000 in January. That’s more than $2.56 million combined over those four months.
“The change was significant as we got some wind in our sails, and had the pandemic at our back,” Langley said.
The numbers year-over-year were up 66.1% in October, 89.9% in November, 113.97% in December and 37.45% in January. Around 32.5% of bed taxes came from South Amelia Island, 41.9% from the unincorporated mid-island and 25.7% from the city of Fernandina Beach.
“We’re achieving our goal of yielding economic impact over rate of growth — the economic impact grew about two times the rate of volume (in calendar year 2021),” Langley said. “So, we’re achieving our goal of getting people to stay longer and spending more, instead of just bringing more people here.”
He noted tourism from the Northeast United States and foreign markets, both of which cratered during the pandemic, returned with strength. Group-related travel, a key part of the island’s tourism mix, also picked up.
“I’ve had the opportunity, growing up, to be able to travel and do a lot of things that a lot of my friends didn’t get to do,” Commissioner Klynt Farmer said. “We’re not St. Simons (Island, Georgia) or Treasure Coast. It’s unique, and I just appreciate what you guys do. I think that we need to protect and preserve the uniqueness of Amelia Island, and appreciate you sharing that with us.”