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It’s only April, and it’s already been a big year for Pensacola tourism. Officials with Visit Pensacola, the bay area’s tourism arm, said Wednesday that tourism is growing at a record pace in Escambia County, just four months into 2016.

Officials said that the organization’s research shows that more visitors are choosing Pensacola as their primary destination and are spending more money per visit than in past years. Visitors to Pensacola spent $849 million in 2015, an increase of 26 percent over the previous year. On average, visitors to the Pensacola Bay area spend more than $2,000 per trip, including an average spending of about $150 daily at local businesses.

Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival

Visitors to the Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival Art are seen in downtown Seville Square. (Special to The Pulse)

Year-to-date tourism development tax collections are up 15.6 percent over 2015, said Visit Pensacola president Steve Hayes. The area’s hotel occupancy rate is up 8 percent and hotel revenue per room has increased by 11.1 percent.

Visit Pensacola’s marketing communications reach also expanded by nearly 30 percent in 2015, the organization said.

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