Bed Tax Barometer Shows Tourism Down Slightly

Last year was not exactly a banner year for local tourism, at least not according to the latest bed tax figures.

The 2004 bed tax collections at Panama City Beach were down 1.8 percent from 2003. That's about $100,000.

Business owners are blaming an active hurricane season and the lack of hotel rooms, but they say the loss won't effect this year's promotions and services.

The lack of rooms could continue to be a problem this year, but Tourist Development Council Executive Director Bob Warren is optimistic this year will be better.

“We'll continue to be without available rooms. We don't think that's going to hamper us unless it's in the month of July. July we're used to being at 95 percent capacity, and having fewer rooms in the month of July could impact us."

The TDC expects 14,000 new condominiums to be available after 2006, with 70 percent of them available as rentals.