TAMPA, Fla.–Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that according to preliminary estimates* released today by VISIT FLORIDA, 26.7 million visitors came to Florida in the first quarter of 2014 (January-March), an increase of 2.0 percent over the same period in 2013. This represents the largest quarter for visitation Florida has ever experienced, exceeding the previous high of 26.2 million in Q1 2013. The average number of direct travel-related jobs in Q1 2014 was also a record high, with 1,125,300 Floridians employed in the tourism industry – up 3.5 percent from the same period in 2013.
Governor Scott said, “Today’s news that we have another record quarter for visitation is great for Florida families. A growing tourism industry is vital to growing jobs in Florida, and creating an opportunity economy. We are off to a great start to reaching our goal of 100 million visitors to Florida this year.”
VISIT FLORIDA estimates that 2.7 million overseas visitors and 1.5 million Canadians came to Florida in Q1 2014, both of which are record highs and represent 1.8 percent and 1.6 percent increases over Q1 2013 respectively. Estimates reflect a 2.0 percent increase in domestic visitors to Florida in Q1 2014 and show that Floridians took just over 4.2 million in-state pleasure trips during the first quarter.
“Experiencing the largest quarter for tourism in our state’s history, including a record number of tourism-related jobs, proves that tourism continues to be a vital force in Florida,” said Tammy Gustafson, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors. “These records also emphasize the power of tourism as a way to sustain Florida’s economic growth.”
Tourism and recreation taxable sales for Florida increased year-over-year for January and February 2014 (last reported month), representing a 7.2 percent increase over the same period in 2013. For Q1 2014, the average daily room rate (ADR) rose 5.1 percent, the occupancy rate for Florida hotels increased 2.7 percent and the demand in rooms sold grew 3.0 percent compared to quarter one 2013.
“Florida tourism is maintaining strong momentum with all indicators up across the board for the quarter,” said Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. “With occupancy, rooms sold, average daily room rate and tourism and recreation taxable sales all continuing to climb, we are well on our way to making Florida the No. 1 travel destination in the world.”
To view additional Florida visitor data, go the Research page on VISIT FLORIDA’s media website.
*Preliminary estimates are issued 45 days after the end of each calendar quarter. Final estimates are released when final data are received for all estimates in the report.
Here are the reactions of key industry leaders to today’s record announcement:
Bill Talbert, Member of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors Executive Committee and President & CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau
“As a founding partner of VISIT FLORIDA, we are thrilled with the tourism records being set by the State ofFlorida. Tourism isMiami’s #1 industry contributing to the economic well-being of the community with record tourism and jobs. We look forward to expanding our partnership with VISIT FLORIDA to ensure the continued growth at record levels of our tourism industry.”
Virginia Haley, Member of the VISIT FLORIDA Visitor Services Committee and President of Visit Sarasota County
“These numbers validate the public private partnership model of VISIT FLORIDA and the success that comes to the state’s economy when we all join together to promote Florida, the best tourism destination in the world.”
Carol Dover, Member of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and President & CEO of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association
“These record numbers indicate the hospitality and tourism industry in Florida is reaching grander levels of success under Governor Rick Scott’s leadership. We are thrilled to see millions upon millions of visitors taking advantage of world-class hotels, restaurants and attractions here in the Sunshine State and we are excited to watch these outstanding statistics continue to multiply in 2014 and in turn spur economic growth.”
Mark Wilson, President & CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce
“Tourists have choices, and when they want to go to paradise, they’re choosing Florida. Today’s record breaking tourism numbers are further proof that Florida’s global role as a top destination continues growing stronger, and as a result, Florida’s families and small businesses are benefiting.”
Rick McAllister, President & CEO of the Florida Retail Federation
“Florida’s retailers benefit from our state’s status as the premier destination for visitors nationwide and internationally, and the strong growth of tourism helped retailers create 55,000 jobs last year. We congratulate Florida’s leadership on the wise investment of resources in tourism marketing, which is clearly paying dividends for our state economy.”
John Sebree, Senior Vice President of Public Policy for the Florida Association of Realtors
“A record year in tourism certainly means more visitors to our theme parks and beautiful beaches, but tourism also goes hand in hand with the strength of our real estate market. Many of the state’s domestic and international visitors decide to buy a Florida property and that, in turn, creates an even greater number of tourists and jobs. We have heard that the purchase of a home by someone outside Florida can create an additional 25 round trip flights per year and countless additional hotel nights for family and friends who then become tourists themselves to our beautiful state.”
Bill Lupfer, VISIT FLORIDA Chair of Public Affairs and President & CEO of the Florida Attractions Association
“Florida is the finest tourism destination in the world, and three record-breaking years for the industry have solidified our position as the lifeblood of the state’s economy. We applaud Governor Scott’s support of the state’s tourism industry and look forward to expanding job opportunities for Floridians in 2014.”
For additional information, contact Kathy Torian at ktorian@VISITFLORIDA.org
or (850) 205-3865.
As the Sunshine State’s No. 1 industry, tourism was responsible for welcoming 94.7 million visitors in 2013 who spent $76.1 billion, generating 23 percent of the state’s sales tax revenue and employing nearly 1.1 million Floridians. For every $1 spent on tourism marketing, VISIT FLORIDA – the state’s official tourism marketing corporation – generates more than $390 in tourism spending and $23 in new sales tax collections, paid by visitors, not residents. VISIT FLORIDA promotes tourism to Florida through sales, advertising, promotions, public relations and visitor services programs. As a public/private partnership, VISIT FLORIDA serves nearly 12,000 tourism industry businesses, including major strategic alliance partnerships with Disney Destinations, The Hertz Corporation, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and Universal Orlando. To learn more about VISIT FLORIDA, please go towww.VISITFLORIDA.orgor follow our corporate blog at www.SunshineMatters.org.