Gov. Rick Scott: Florida Continues All-Time Tourism Record

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced Florida set another record in tourism by welcoming the highest amount of visitors of any nine months in the state’s history with 79.1 million visitors, according to VISIT FLORIDA. This record amount of visitors represents a 5.5 percent increase over the previous year. In the third quarter of 2015 (July – September), 25.5 million visitors came to the state, an increase of 6.8 percent over 2014 and Florida’s largest third quarter for visitation ever.  The average number of direct travel-related jobs in quarter three was also a record high, with 1,195,400 Floridians employed in the tourism industry – up 5.2 percent over the same period last year.

Governor Scott said, “I am proud to announce that the Sunshine State continued our record-breaking success and welcomed the most visitors in Florida’s history over the first three quarters of the year. Our growing tourism industry employs 1.2 million Floridians and is helping us meet our goal of becoming first for jobs. We look forward to more than 100 million tourists visiting Florida this year.”

VISIT FLORIDA estimates that 22.1 million domestic visitors traveled to Florida in the third quarter of 2015, reflecting an 8.2 percent increase over the same period last year.  Estimates also show that 3.4 million international visitors came to Florida in quarter three of 2015. Preliminary figures for the first three quarters of 2015 show 67.4 million domestic visitors, 8.3 million overseas visitors and 3.4 million Canadians have come to the Sunshine State.

Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, said, “With three record quarters and a fifth consecutive record year on the horizon, it’s clear that this continued growth does not happen by accident.  It’s the direct result of a global marketing strategy focused on maximizing the economic impact of Florida tourism. Today’s announcement shows tourism marketing works and we have Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature to thank for their unparalleled support that will enable us to reach our goal of generating $100 billion in visitor spending by 2020.”

Tourism and recreation taxable sales for Florida increased year-over-year for January through August 2015 (last reported month), representing an 8.2 percent increase over the same period in 2014.  For quarter three of 2015, the average daily room rate (ADR) rose 5.1 percent, the occupancy rate for Florida hotels increased 3.6 percent and the demand in rooms sold grew 4.8 percent compared to quarter three of 2014.

John Tomlin, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors, said, “The continued growth of tourism for the third quarter, including a record number of tourism-related jobs, puts Florida on pace for a fifth consecutive record breaking year. These records also emphasize the power of tourism as an economic leader and job creator for the state.  Outcomes like these are the direct result of the vision and support of the Governor, Legislature and our amazing tourism industry, as well as world-class strategies and execution by the VISIT FLORIDA staff.”

Bill Talbert, Vice Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and President & CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau said, “Florida’s tourism continues to make history with another record-shattering quarter.  New and established hotels, attractions, restaurants and hospitality-related businesses are fueling strong industry job growth and increased tax revenues. Those who enthusiastically welcome and serve our visitors continue to deliver great experiences, contributing to our state’s growing popularity.  We are fortunate to have a Governor and Legislature that support our industry and VISIT FLORIDA so that we can share the diverse treasures of our state with the world.”

Andrew Hertz, Immediate Past Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and President & General Manager of Miami Seaquarium said, “Achieving record visitation for the third quarter of 2015 provides strong momentum towards our goal of $100 billion in tourism-related spend by 2020.  Florida is fortunate to have the strong support of Governor Scott and the Legislature, as well as funding matched by dollars from great industry partners.  This support allows VISIT FLORIDA to reach even more markets and potential visitors with compelling reasons to visit Florida and create memories that last a lifetime.”

Carol Dover, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Public Affairs Committee and President & CEO of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association said, “Florida is continuing to break the mold by setting record-breaking trends that prove our state leads the way in hospitality and tourism.  These numbers highlight Governor Scott’s leadership, and along with support from Florida’s Legislature, ensures a business-friendly environment that allows hoteliers, restaurateurs, suppliers and attractions to thrive.  We were proud to help provide incredible guest experiences in the first three quarters of the year and are excited to welcome even more visitors to the Sunshine State throughout the rest of the year.”

Bill Lupfer, Member of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and President & CEO of the Florida Attractions Association said, “Florida’s outstanding attractions and iconic destinations have a lot to be proud of, and this record third quarter means we are on track for what is sure to be another stellar year.  As we continue to shatter industry records and make the Sunshine State the gold standard for tourism across the country and around the world, we are grateful for the hard work of our industry partners and the support of Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature.”

To view additional Florida visitor data, please go to the Research page on VISIT FLORIDA’s media website.