Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida set another record in tourism by welcoming the highest amount of visitors of any nine months in the state’s history with 85 million visitors.
This record amount represents a 5.5 percent increase over the year. In the third quarter of 2016 (July – September), 26.9 million visitors came to the state, an increase of 5.1 percent over the year. This marks Florida’s largest third quarter for visitation ever.
The average number of direct travel-related jobs in quarter three of 2016 was also a record high, with 1,241,300 Floridians employed in the tourism industry – up 4.1 percent over the year.
Governor Scott said, “Today, I am proud to announce that Florida continues to set record breaking success by already welcoming 85 million visitors this year – the most visitors over the first nine months in our state’s history. We are also at a record high of over 1.2 million Floridians employed in our tourism industry and on pace to reach our goal of 115 million tourists by the end of the year. VISIT FLORIDA does an incredible job of marketing our state and keeping all of our tourism partners, which include both large and small businesses, updated on how to keep our visitors informed when our state faces challenges like the Zika virus, hurricanes and the terrorist attack at Pulse Nightclub. Since I have been in office, we have more than doubled the funding for VISIT FLORIDA and these investments have helped bring more tourists to Florida and add more jobs for families in our state. We need to continue investing in our tourism industry so we can keep breaking records and add even more jobs.”
VISIT FLORIDA estimates that, of the 26.9 million total visitors in the third quarter, 23.6 million were domestic visitors, reflecting a 5.8 percent increase over the same period last year. Estimates also show that 2.8 million overseas visitors came to Florida in quarter three of 2016, reflecting a 0.9 percent increase over the same period last year. Preliminary figures for the first three quarters of 2016 show that, of the 85 million total visitors, 73.8 million domestic visitors have come to the Sunshine State, reflecting a 7 percent increase year over year.
Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, said “Today’s announcement shows that the Florida tourism industry has done a tremendous job marketing the state both domestically and internationally during very challenging times. It also shows that we will have to work even harder as a state and an industry to maintain that growth going forward.”
Tourism and recreation taxable sales for Florida increased 5.4 percent year over year for January through July 2016 (last reported month). For quarter three of 2016, the average daily room rate (ADR) rose 2.9 percent, the demand in rooms sold grew 2.3 percent and the hotel occupancy rate was up 0.9 percent.
William D. Talbert, III, CDME, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors, said “Florida has the best tourism product in the world and a team of really smart state and local marketers who, with the continued support of Governor Scott and the Florida legislature, work together to find innovative ways to share that message with the world.”