Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida set another record in tourism numbers by welcoming the highest amount of visitors of any quarter in the state’s history according to VISIT FLORIDA. In the first quarter of 2015 (January-March), 28.4 million visitors came to the state, an increase of 6.2 percent over the same period in 2014. The previous high for a quarter for tourism was 26.7 million visitors in quarter one last year. The average number of direct travel-related jobs in quarter one of 2015 was also a record high, with 1,186,900 Floridians employed in the tourism industry – up 4.8 percent from the same period in 2014.
Governor Scott said, “I am proud to announce that the Sunshine State continued our record breaking success and welcomed the most visitors of any quarter in Florida’s history. Our growing tourism industry employs over 1 million Floridians and is helping us meet our goal of becoming the global destination for jobs. We are excited to start 2015 off with our biggest quarter ever, which puts us on pace to exceed our goal of 100 million visitors to Florida this year.”
VISIT FLORIDA estimates that 2.9 million overseas visitors and 1.7 million Canadians came to Florida in quarter one of 2015, both of which are record highs and represent 7.1 percent and 1.2 percent increases over quarter one of 2014 respectively. Estimates also show that 23.8 million domestic visitors traveled to Florida in quarter one of 2015, reflecting a 6.5 percent increase over the same period last year.
“Experiencing the largest quarter for tourism in our state’s history, including and especially a record number of tourism-related jobs, proves that tourism continues to be a vital force in Florida,” said Andrew Hertz, 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 2015 (last reported month), representing a 10.0 percent increase over the same period in 2014. For quarter one of 2015, the average daily room rate (ADR) rose 7.6 percent, the occupancy rate for Florida hotels increased 3.7 percent and the demand in rooms sold grew 5.1 percent compared to quarter one of 2014.
“With all indicators continuing to climb, Florida tourism has strong momentum,” said Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. “In addition to the record visitation, our market share is outpacing the rest of the nation, putting us well on our way to making Florida the No. 1 travel destination in the world.”
John Tomlin, Vice Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and Chief Operating Officer for The Auto Club Group said, “Achieving record visitation for the first quarter of 2015 provides strong momentum towards our goal of bringing 100 million visitors to Florida this year. Florida is fortunate to have the strong support of Governor Scott and the Legislature, as well as increased 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 for a lifetime. With continued support, the Sunshine State is poised to become the No. 1 travel destination in the world.”
Carol Dover, Member of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and President & CEO of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association said, “The hospitality industry here in Florida is world-class, so it’s no wonder why visitors are continuing to flock to our great state in astounding record numbers. We are thrilled to host millions of guests at our exceptional restaurants, hotels and attractions and are proud to create opportunities for families that allow them to enjoy all the Sunshine State has to offer. With continued VISIT FLORIDA support from Governor Scott and the Legislature, we can once again increase the number of visitors, jobs created and revenue generated to ensure Florida remains a wonderful place to live, work and play.”
Bill Lupfer, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Public Affairs Committee and President & CEO of the Florida Attractions Association said, “Florida’s outstanding attractions and iconic destinations have a lot to be proud of, and the first quarter is just that – the first in 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.”
Lino Maldonado, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Industry Relations Committee and Vice President of Operations for ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals said, “Another record shattering quarter for Florida tourism is not really a surprise. It’s actually the byproduct of tremendous efforts each and every day by those who serve their guests with a passion and deliver GREAT experiences. We are fortunate to have a Governor and Legislature that support our industry and VISIT FLORIDA so that we can continue to share the beautiful stories of our State with the world.”
To view additional Florida visitor data, please go to 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.