Tourism was booming over the summer as bed tax collections countywide were up 20 percent in August from August a year ago.

But the reason for some of the increase is just better hotels that can charge higher rates, said Bob Davis, president of the Volusia Lodging Association. “You've got all these new products that giving people a new feel for Daytona Beach.”

The Hard Rock Hotel has joined the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort and the Shores Resort & Spa to give tourists and conventioneers better choices.

The area also has gotten several mid-range hotels of better quality along the beach, such as the Hyatt Place in Daytona Beach Shores, the Hilton Garden Inn in Daytona Beach and the Springhill Suites in New Smyrna Beach.

“The rates go up and the clientele goes up because we've got a better brand of hotel,” Mr. Davis said.

Some of the sharp increase in August was because of late payments from July, according to the county tax office. But August would have been up regardless.

“The whole year has been great,” Mr. Davis said.

As even more top of the line hotels come on line, including The Daytona, the Marriott Signature hotel at OneDaytona, more people will be attracted to the area.

There was one hiccup for the outlook, though, the Protogroup's massive resort project had to change contractors.

But it's not just the Daytona area that was up a lot in August and will be helped by more hotels. The Courtyard by Marriott was scheduled to open this week in DeLand and a Hyatt Place is still on track to get developed in New Smyrna Beach.

***

It's not official as far as any public documents getting filed, but the Port Orange City Manager's weekly report stated, "The owner of Perrine’s Produce anticipates submitting building permits to modify the interior of the tenant space (of old Food Lion) and add signage to the building and shopping center by the end of the year." Hopefully that will get rid of Port Orange's only white elephant (a big building or space that has sat empty for awhile).

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The only commercial real estate deal in Volusia County to note was Waffle House buying the property it uses at 414 Deltona Blvd. in Deltona for $750,000.

***

ICI Homes has submitted plans to the St. Johns River Management District for its 1,000-acre development on the south side of State Road 40 in Daytona Beach. It includes a 12-building shopping center and about 2,500 houses. Plans also were submitted to the district for the 114-room Hyatt Place in New Smyrna Beach, which has two restaurant outparcels.

***

Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co. continues snapping up properties. It acquired eight ground leases next to the St. Johns Town Center in Jacksonville for about $32.3 million. The 10.45 acre site has two strip centers with a Chase Bank, WaWa, 5 national restaurant brands, including Cheddar’s and Chuy’s, and a car wash. The company also acquired a 210,000-square-foot office property in Albuquerque, N.M., for $44 million.

***

On a final note, the buildout has begun on the Bonefish Grill in front of Volusia Mall. I'm not sure if the new strip center in front of the east end of the mall has a name, but it looks like it's going to be as attractive as all the restaurants that are now on the west end of the mall.

Managing Editor Cecil G. Brumley has been tracking business and the economy in Volusia County for more than 21 years. Contact him at cbrumley@hometownnewsol.com (no hyphens) or follow him on Twitter @cecilbrumley.

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