By almost every measure, tourism trade in Florida’s Manatee County is showing small signs of lasting recovery from the recession, Manatee County’s tourism researcher said Monday (April 18).

Lodging occupancy rates for the county of 275,000 on the state’s Gulf Coast are up from a year ago. Hotels, condos and RV parks are able to charge more per day than a year ago. More visitors came through the area in February 2011 than 2010. More tourists are using Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport than a year ago. Even the percentage of satisfied visitors has increased, the Bradenton Herald reported.

“The recessionary contractions that we had experienced are a thing of the past,” said Walter Klages, president of Research Data Services. “From every perspective, we’ve weathered the storm, and we’ve come out of it well.”

Those positive trends indicate that Manatee County is on its way to a 2011 increase in tourism of up to 3.5%, Klages said. That’s almost a full percentage point higher than 2010’s increase of 2.6%