Florida set another record in tourism by welcoming the highest amount of visitors of any six months in the state’s history – 54.1 million – according to VISIT FLORIDA.
The number represents a 5.8 increase over the year. In the second quarter of 2015 (April through June), 25.8 million visitors came to the state, an increase of 5.5 percent over the year.
The average number of direct travel-related jobs in quarter two of 2015 was also a record high, with 1,213,500 Floridians employed in the tourism industry – up 4.9 percent over the year.
“I am proud to announce the Sunshine State continued our record-breaking success and welcomed the most visitors in Florida’s history over the first half of the year,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a press release. “Our growing tourism industry employs over 1.2 million Floridians and is helping us meet our goal of becoming the best place in the world for jobs. We are excited to mark the first half of 2015 with our biggest second quarter ever, and we look forward to exceeding our goal of 100 million visitors to Florida this year.”
VISIT FLORIDA estimates that 2.7 million overseas visitors and 1.2 million Canadians came to Florida in the second quarter of 2015. Estimates also show that 21.9 million domestic visitors traveled to Florida in the second quarter of 2015, reflecting a 6.8 percent increase over the year. Preliminary figures for the first half of 2015 show 45.7 million domestic visitors, 5.5 million overseas visitors and 2.9 million Canadians have come to the Sunshine State, representing increases of 6.7 percent, 1.7 percent and 1.1 percent respectively.
“The continued growth of tourism for the second quarter, including a record number of tourism related jobs, puts Florida on pace for a fifth consecutive record-breaking year,” John Tomlin, chairman of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors said. “These records also emphasize the power of tourism as an economic leader and job creator for the state. Results like these are the direct result of the vision and support of the governor and legislature, as well as world-class strategies and execution by the VISIT FLORIDA staff.”
Tourism and recreation taxable sales for Florida increased year-over-year for January through May 2015 (last reported month), representing a 9 percent increase over the same period in 2014. For quarter two of 2015, the average daily room rate rose 4.7 percent, the occupancy rate for Florida hotels increased 2.9 percent and the demand in rooms sold grew 4.4 percent compared to quarter two of 2014.
“With all indicators continuing to climb, Florida tourism has strong momentum,” Will Seccombe, president and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, said in a release. “This continued growth does not happen by accident. We know tourism marketing works and we have Gov. Scott and the Florida Legislature to thank for their unparalleled support that has put us well on our way to making Florida the No. 1 travel destination in the world.”