Venice needs hotel on or near beach
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By Shelby Webb
Published: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at 5:10 p.m
More visitors than ever are flocking to Venice, but they are finding it difficult to find coveted rooms near the beach.
Venice razed its only beachfront hotel a decade ago. The closest one still operating, the Inn at the Beach Hotel, had no vacancies during 80 percent of the time between October and April.
Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota, the county’s tourism agency, told the City Council on Tuesday more hotels close to or on the beach are needed.
The last beachfront hotel, a Best Western, was demolished in 2003, replaced by a $24.7 million condominium.
Jeff Boone, a Venice-based land use and development attorney, said building a new hotel is much easier to say than it is to do.
“I don’t like to say anything’s impossible,” Boone said. “But it would sure take a lot of work and a lot of things would have to happen.”
As she spoke to the Venice City Council on Tuesday, Haley painted a rosy picture of this year’s tourist season.
In February, Sarasota County had its highest hotel occupancy rate of all time, Haley said. The number of tourists who vacationed in the county increased by 6 percent, and those tourists spent 10 percent more than they did last year.
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