Fri, Nov 18, 2022 6:29 AM
By Bethany Blankley, The Center Square
Florida’s tourism numbers continue to grow, according to new data released by VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism agency.
In the third quarter, between July and September, Florida welcomed 35.1 million visitors, marking a 6.9% increase from Q3 2021. It’s also the fifth consecutive quarter of overall visitation that’s surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
According to VISIT FLORIDA, 32.6 million domestic visitors traveled to Florida in Q3 2022, representing 18 months of domestic visitation growth from 2019.
So far this year, Florida has welcomed 104.5 million travelers, an increase of 4.1% and 15.3% compared to the same period in 2019 and 2021, respectively.
“Our freedom first policies continue to bring visitors to Florida from across the country and around the world,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “This increase in tourism will support our entire economy, especially small businesses that have been built from the ground up by hardworking Floridians.”
Dana Young, VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO said, “Even as more destinations have become available, Florida has firmly maintained the top spot on every traveler’s list. Looking ahead, VISIT FLORIDA is wholly focused on continuing the momentum we have created, and further reinforcing that we are the No. 1 vacation destination in the world.”
According to VISIT FLORIDA’s latest visitation estimates, Florida welcomed 1.9 million overseas travelers the third quarter, an increase of 85.5% from Q3 2021. The greatest number came from Canada, roughly 539,000, an increase of 442.2% from Q3 2021.
More than one third of travelers visited Florida by plane, signifying a return to a historical travel pattern. Among them, the majority flew into Orlando International Airport, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Fort Myers. Hotels also saw an increase in business with room sales growing by 9.2% compared to the same period last year, and the overall occupancy rate growing by 6.2%.
With Fort Myers having been a key destination, and to ensure visitors aren’t dissuaded by the impacts of Hurricane Ian, VISIT FLORIDA launched a $2.7 million campaign to convey to travelers that the “Sun is Shining in Florida.”
The numbers show continued growth after the year began with first quarter numbers seeing 36 million people visit Florida, a 39.6% increase from the same period last year.
“Economists originally projected that Florida tourism wouldn’t fully recover until 2024, but quarter after quarter, despite the Biden administration’s utter failure to manage inflation and the nation’s supply chain woes, Florida’s visitation numbers continue to break records and defy conventional wisdom,” DeSantis said of the first quarter data. Florida’s tourism industry began and appears to be ending 2022 “with incredible strength, proving that freedom first policies will always win, especially when combating the inept economic policies coming out of D.C.”