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A record number of people stayed in hotels last month on the St. Johns County coast, St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau announced this week.
Lodging figures hit an all-time high for the month of November this year, according to a news release. The occupancy rate was up 6 percent from last year, and the number of rooms sold was up 7 percent.
Tourism to the St. Johns County coast has steadily increased in recent years, and hotel occupancy hit a five-year high in 2013.
“Our marketing efforts over the past year, combined with great events, attractions and outstanding accommodations, have resulted in positive, measurable results,” said Richard Goldman, executive director of the bureau.
The organization began a new marketing campaign in 2009, rebranding the area as the Historic Coast. They are one of several communities in the state to develop a new coastal moniker to attract tourists.
Hotel occupancy numbers in the First Coast indicate that tourism rose this year, which is a strong indicator of spending and consumer confidence. In addition to St. Johns County, Duval County also had more people staying in hotels, according to Visit Jacksonville. That’s led many to expect a strong local economy in 2014.
St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights celebration, which runs from late November to February, has helped attract more visitors to the area, Goldman said in the release.
“This popular annual holiday event continues to stimulate visitation to the area for December,” he said.
This year’s celebration of the 500th year of the “discovery” of Florida by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon, who is linked to St. Augustine and the fabled Fountain of Youth, also boosted tourism, Goldman said.
“We will continue to enhance awareness and interest among travelers for St. Augustine by promoting the city’s upcoming 450th Anniversary in 2015,” Goldman said.
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