Florida started 2018 with a record high number of tourists, Gov. Rick Scott announced on Tuesday.
Scott said that 33.2 million tourists visited the Sunshine State in the first three months of the year. This is an increase of 7.4 percent from 2017 and marks a new record for Florida.
“I am proud to announce that Florida set an all-time record by welcoming over 33 million visitors to our state during the first quarter of 2018,” Scott said on Tuesday. “This historic tourism number represents a 7.4 percent increase over last year and demonstrates the momentum that our state has built. Since December 2010, Florida has created more than 1.5 million jobs, and a large part of this growth is because of the incredible success of our state’s tourism industry. I appreciate the team at Visit Florida and their help making these historic numbers possible.”
The Sunshine State has been helped by an increase in domestic visitors as 29.1 million of them visited Florida in the first quarter of 2018, an increase of 8.5 percent from last year. Florida is also seeing more of our neighbors from the north as 1.4 million Canadians visited the state in the first quarter of 2018, up 2.5 percent from the year before.
Ken Lawson, the president and CEO of Visit Florida, gave his organization’s increased marketing campaign some of the credit for the growth in tourism.
“This record setting quarter of 33.2 million visitors to our state, the largest quarter in our state’s history, shows that Visit Florida is marketing our state like never before,” Lawson said. “With the help of our 12,000 industry partners, we saw a historic 7.4 percent increase over last year, which is fantastic news. We will continue developing more innovative and cutting-edge marketing programs to build on this success across the country and across the world. I am very proud of our team’s efforts as we continue to market Florida as the number one global destination.”
In the meantime, the increased number of travelers is leading to more flights to Florida. In the first three months of 2018, the 18 major airports across Florida saw 7.6 percent more enplanements than the year before. Most of those--80 percent--were domestic flights with 1.4 million more than the first three months of 2017. There has also been a 3.3 percent in hotel rooms sold and a 1.9 percent increase in the hotel occupancy rate in the first three months of 2018 when compared to that period in 2017.