SOUTH PADRE ISLAND (KVEO) — In March, South Padre Island had a higher occupancy tax than both 2020 and 2019, meaning that tourism is higher now than pre-pandemic.
SPI business owners say that sales have increased this year following the pandemic, but it is not the usual tourists visiting.
“Business has actually been on the uprise,” said Mike Sprowl, owner of Eh Brah Surf School and Milo’s Coffee Shop on South Padre Island. “The spring break crowd, not so much this year, not a lot of the partiers a lot more of the family-oriented people.”
The occupancy tax collection for March 2021 was ahead by 77.69% in comparison to 2020 and 20% higher from 2019.
South Padre Island’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau director, Ed Caum, said that tourism is the biggest industry on the Island.
“That’s having a major impact on our H.O.T —our hotel occupancy tax collection— but also on our sales tax and food and beverage tax,” said Caum.
Caum said that one of the reasons tourists pick SPI is because its an outdoor destination.
“Where do [tourists] want to be? An outdoor destination, things to do outside, not too crowded, ability to stay at a hotel or vacation rental,” said Caum.
Hotels are at over 70% occupancy, “bookings out through September, our vacation rental properties are booked solid,” Caum said.
Roin Khuami, owner of Café Karma on South Padre Island said that their profits reflect the same numbers that the Island is seeing.
“Numbers have been higher than two years ago,” said Khuami. “They’ve been increasing about 30% high this year.”
Khuami added that at the in past years sales go down after spring break or summertime, but this year they have stayed steady.
Caum wanted to remind the public that SPI businesses are maintaining a clean and safe environment for tourists.