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There was a 26% increase in visitors to Charlotte County for the second fiscal quarter, January through March 2024, and the Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor & Convention Bureau is planning ways to direct more to the county’s attractions. 

“We’re having two Gulf Coast Host programs,” said Amy Sharpe of the VCB. 

The first will be for frontline hospitality staff, such as front desk clerks, food and beverage servers, attraction workers and other staff who frequently are in direct contact with visitors. 

For instance, some might ask, “Where can I see an alligatorSharpe said. Others might not know about Iguanaland or the Peace River Wildlife Center. 

Where to go boating, golfing, swimming or surfing, might be questions visitors will ask at their hotel or restaurant. 

The first Gulf Coast Host program will be July 23 at Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center. Then Aug. 20, a second program will inform airport staff at Punta Gorda Airport. Both 90-minute sessions will begin at 11 a.m.   

Findings of research company Downs & St. Germain were presented at the recent VCB advisory committee meeting where it was revealed that Charlotte County is emerging as a top-of-mind destination, evidenced by nearly 80% of visitors prioritizing it without considering any other area. 

Although room occupancy was down 3.1%, the number of visitors rose by 0.7%, as well as economic impact (up 11.9%), the average daily rate (up 15.4%), and Tourist Development Tax collections rose by 24.5% over the same quarter last year. 

TDT collections for the fiscal year October 2023 through September 2024 are $5,911,547. Collections for April, which is the latest month data is available, were $726,193.99. 

The area that generated the most TDT revenue was Port Charlotte, followed by Punta Gorda/Charlotte Harbor and Punta Gorda. 

Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor no doubt was a contributor to TDT revenue. 

The top two out-of-state markets where visitors came from were Boston and Minneapolis-St. Paul, according to the research study. 

Each month the VCB releases data on the most viewed locations through Google. 

Coming in at No. 1 was Iguanaland, followed by Suites at Fishermen’s Village, Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens, Laishley Park, Englewood Beach at Chadwick Park, PicklePlex of Punta Gorda at Florida SouthWestern State College, Port Charlotte Beach Park, SandBar Tiki & Grille, Lighthouse Grill & Tiki Bar and Stump Pass Beach State Park. 

The top clicked locations were Suites at Fishermen’s Village, Iguanaland, Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor, Four Points by Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside, SandBar Tiki & Grille, Lighthouse Grill & Tiki Bar, Military Heritage Museum, Sea Grape Artists Gallery, Englewood Beach at Chadwick Par, and Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens. 

Going forward, the VCB and Charlotte County Airport Authority are awaiting word from airlines after officials from the VCB and airport authority visited Washington, D.C., to meet with airline officials to determine whether the airlines would consider adding Punta Gorda Airport to their flight destination itineraries. 

Currently, only Allegiant Air has PGD flights all year long, and Sun Country offers limited seasonal service. 

Copyright 2024 Gulfshore Life Media, LLC All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior written consent.

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