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Business

Santa Barbara Bed Tax on Upswing with Record Tourism Revenue

Santa Barbara's tourism industry posted its highest numbers in city history last year, revealing that more people are visiting the area and contributing more cash to city coffers.

The fiscal year that ended June 30 posted its highest numbers to date, with $16.82 million in transient occupancy tax, or TOT, coming into the treasury. 

The city's TOT is also known as the bed tax, which is charged by local hoteliers as visitors stay in their accommodations.

The city reached and exceeded its pre-recession levels in 2012, according to city treasury manager Genie Wilson.

In June, the city collected $1.67 million in TOT, a 7.9 percent increase from June 2013, according to a statement issued this week from the city's treasury.

The city said the increase is below the growth rates realized most of the year, which might be due to the fact that there was one fewer weekend day this year than last year. 

Over the past year, the city has collected $16.82 million in TOT, a 14.6 percent increase from the previous year.

Santa Barbara County's South Coast also saw a 7.4 percent increase in the average daily rate and a 3.45 percent increase in occupancy over the last year, according to Visit Santa Barbara, a group that promotes tourism in the area.

“As a post-recession economic driver, tourism has returned with notable force,” Visit Santa Barbara's Kathy Janega-Dykes said in a statement.

People are traveling again and coming to the South Coast, she said, adding that the group is continuing to work to market aggressively to people planning trips.

The tourism industry on the South Coast generates $1.5 billion in visitor-related spending annually and supports 12,000 jobs, according to Visit Santa Barbara. 

The organization maintains they've helped more than double the amount of lodging generated revenue in the area from $28 million in 2010-11 to a projected $59 million in 2013-14.

The group's programs expanded over the past three years with funding from a Tourism Business Improvement District, or TBID, which will help the organization invest in a new advertising campaign and brand identity. 

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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