TAMPA, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott today announced that according to preliminary estimates released by VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation, 97.3 million visitors came to Florida in 2014, an increase of 3.9 percent over 2013. This is the fourth consecutive record year for visitation to Florida, exceeding the previous high of 93.7 million in 2013. The number of direct travel-related jobs in 2014 was also a record high, with 1,135,700 Floridians employed in the tourism industry, up 3.6 percent from 2013.
Governor Scott said, “We are excited to announce that Florida welcomed more than 97 million visitors in 2014 marking the fourth consecutive record year for tourism in the Sunshine State. Not only are visitors coming to our state at record levels, but there are also a record number of Floridians employed in our tourism industry. Florida’s natural beauty, pristine beaches and exciting attractions continue to bring countless visitors to our state and provide valuable jobs for our families. Our tourism industry is vital to helping Florida become the global destination for jobs, and this year we are proposing in our ‘KEEP FLORIDA WORKING’ budget an additional $17.5 million so VISIT FLORIDA can market our state and continue our unprecedented growth in visitors.”
VISIT FLORIDA estimates that 11.5 million overseas visitors and 3.8 million Canadians came to Florida in 2014, both of which are record highs and represent 2.6 percent and 2.4 percent increases over 2013 respectively. Estimates reflect a 4.2 percent increase in domestic visitors to Florida in 2014 and show that Floridians took a record total of 20.2 million in-state pleasure trips.
For fourth quarter 2014, preliminary estimates show a record 22.4 million people visited the Sunshine State. This represents the largest fourth quarter visitation number Florida has ever seen and reflects an increase of 2.8 percent over the same period in 2013. VISIT FLORIDA also reports that an estimated 3.1 million overseas visitors traveled to Florida in the fourth quarter of 2014, an increase of 0.5 percent, and 765,000 Canadians traveled to Florida, reflecting an increase of 5.6 percent over the same period in 2013.
“In 2014, a record 97.3 million tourists visited the state of Florida, an increase of 3.6 million people. That means there were nearly 4 percent more visitors spending money in Florida last year,” said Andrew Hertz, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors. “Anyone would be happy to see their business grow by 4 percent year-over-year. But it is absolutely amazing when an entire industry keeps beating record numbers, while adding jobs and supporting the rest of the state’s economy.”
Tourism and recreation taxable sales for Florida increased every month year-over-year from January through November 2014 (last reported month), representing a 7.7 percent increase over the same period in 2013. For 2014, the average daily room rate (ADR) rose 5.7 percent and the number of rooms sold grew by 5.3 percent compared to 2013. Florida’s average occupancy rate for 2014 was 69.7 percent, an increase of 4.4 percent over 2013. This represents a record year for the statewide calendar year occupancy rate, exceeding the previous high of 69.0 percent in 2005. ADR, occupancy and rooms sold all increased every month year-over-year in 2014.
“Thanks to the visionary leadership of Governor Rick Scott and the Florida legislature, the Florida tourism industry has grown from 82.3 million visitors in 2010 to 97.3 million in 2014,” said Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. “With all indicators up – taxable sales, ADR, occupancy and rooms sold – the industry is firing on all cylinders.”
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 four consecutive years is a testament to the strong marketing partnership between VISIT FLORIDA and our tourism industry Partners. With continued support from Governor Scott and the Florida legislature, 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, “These record breaking numbers make it clear, Florida is moving in the right direction as a world-class destination. With Governor Scott’s increased support for VISIT FLORIDA, the hospitality and tourism industry can continue to provide incredible experiences for millions of visitors, create jobs and generate revenue to put back in the pockets of Florida families. This year, we look forward to repeating the trend of growth and we are thrilled so many visitors are taking advantage of our unique restaurants, hotels and attractions in the Sunshine State.”
Bill Lupfer, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Public Affairs Committee and President & CEO of the Florida Attractions Association, said, “Tourism is the number-one driver of the state’s economy, and we are proud of the Sunshine State’s four consecutive years of record visitor turnout. This means greater revenues for the state, and more than one million Florida jobs supported by tourism. We applaud Governor Rick Scott and the Legislative leadership’s support of Florida’s thriving tourism industry and look forward to even greater growth in 2015.”
Lino Maldonado, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Industry Relations Committee and Vice President of Operations for ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals said, “Yet another record year for Florida tourism due in large part to the support of our Governor and pro-tourism legislature. My team is very proud to work in an industry that not only employs so many across our beautiful state, but that produces lasting memories for visitors from around the world.”
To view additional Florida visitor data, go the research page on VISIT FLORIDA’s 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. – See more at: http://frla.org/frla-news/item/1506-gov-scott-more-than-97-million-tourists-in-2014#sthash.FtrerL63.dpuf