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With nearly two million visitors spending nearly $1 billion last year, Pensacola has never been in a better position when it comes to tourism.

Visit Pensacola today released a video highlighting the value of tourism in the Bay Area, citing stats on visitor spending, stays at local hotels and lodging, along with spending at local small businesses.

Also featured are several Pensacolians speaking on the importance tourism has for jobs, quality of life, and the growth of the Gulf Coast.

Katie Garrett, owner of the Old Hickory Whiskey Bar in downtown Pensacola. (Visit Pensacola/Special to The Pulse)

“Our little town is so welcoming to outsiders,” said Katie Garrett, owner of the Old Hickory Whiskey Bar, a historically-inspired cocktail bar named after President Andrew Jackson. “Anyone can make a home here. We have one of the best stories there is to be told.”

Garrett is joined by others in the video who have jobs and careers in the service, hospitality, and cultural tourism sectors.

“I feel like it really is my job to let people know Pensacola has so much to offer, besides just our beautiful scenery,'” said Dorian Kollore, who works at Margaritaville Beach Hotel.

Steve Hayes, president of Visit Pensacola, said the latest statistics show the tourism industry in Pensacola is growing at a very healthy rate.

“Our average visitor spends about 8.5 nights here per trip and more than $150 a day at our local businesses – from restaurants to shops to grocery stores and attractions,” said Hayes.

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(Visit Pensacola/Special to The Pulse)

Revenue generated from the Tourism Development Tax (TDT) increased by more than 9 percent in fiscal year 2015, totaling $9.4 million. According to officials, that increase is a direct reflection of the tourism industry’s collaborative efforts and overall marketing.

Total direct visitor spending in 2015 totaled $849 million. The tourism industry supports more than 16,000 jobs in Escambia County alone and 20,000 in the Pensacola MSA. Sales tax revenue from direct visitor spending generated more than $61 million in tax revenue to help fund county government services, education and tourism development.

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