Tourism is up nearly 2 percent in Palm Beach County, and Boca’s growing city and hotel scenes are leading the way.
Discover the Palm Beaches just released record-breaking visitation figures for 2018. Year-end hotel data showed 8.02 million visitors came to the Palm Beaches from January to December.
That was an increase of 1.7 percent over 2017. “It marked 10 years in a row of visitation growth to the destination,” according to the tourism marketing organization.
“The Boca Raton Resort & Club acts as an anchor for conferences and events,” Discover’s president and CEO Jorge Pesquera told Boca Voice. He singled out the Resort’s John C. Tolbert, president, and managing director, for leading the way. “His team works in collaboration with other hotels. All of a sudden, Boca will have 1,500 to 1,600 hotel rooms” in the downtown, Pesquera said.
He cited the Resort, Hyatt Place, Waterstone Resort & Marina and the Mandarin Oriental Boca Raton under construction on Federal Highway just north of Camino Real. “That area is a convention district on its own,” he said.
The two events that bring TV to Boca also help beef up tourism, he noted. ESPN Events is behind the Boca Raton Bowl college football game held every December in Florida Atlantic University Stadium. “I was able to watch the Boca Bowl in Puerto Rico,” said Pesquera, who has an overview of tourism as Discover chief for 11 years.
The PGA’s recent Oasis Championship on the Old Course at Broken Sound is televised on the Golf Channel.
The city also weighed in for its share of praise. “Boca has become a great partner for tourism and the economy,” he added. He praised events in the Mizner Park Amphitheater, including Festival of the Arts BOCA underway now. “That’s very helpful,” he said.
Here are more announcements of countywide tourism figures for 2018:
- International visitors increased by half a percent to 749,000. The United Kingdom grew 9 percent to 39,000 visitors. Brazil grew 3 percent to 29,000 visitors. Colombia grew 5 percent to 22,000 visitors.
- Domestic visitation grew 1.2 percent to nearly 4.5 million visitors from outside Florida.
- Visits originating in Florida grew 2.8 percent to 2.8 million visits, with Orlando showing the strongest growth with a 13 percent increase.
By Marci Shatzman