Today, Governor Rick Scott announced Florida set another record in tourism by welcoming the highest amount of visitors of any six months in the state’s history with 54.1 million visitors, according to VISIT FLORIDA. This record amount of visitors represents a 5.8 increase over the year. In the second quarter of 2015 (April -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.
Governor Scott said, “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. 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 quarter two 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,” said John Tomlin, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors. “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 9.0 percent increase over the same period in 2014. For quarter two of 2015, the average daily room rate (ADR) 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,” said Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. “This continued growth does not happen by accident. We know tourism marketing works and we have Governor 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.”
Bill Talbert, Vice Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and President & CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau said, “We’re thrilled that Florida’s tourism continues to make history with another record shattering quarter. The tremendous effort each and every day by those who enthusiastically welcome and serve our visitors delivers great experiences that grow our state’s popularity. We are fortunate to have a Governor and Legislature that support our industry and VISIT FLORIDA so that we can continue to share the extraordinary stories of the people and places 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 second 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 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 prove that Governor Scott’s leadership, 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 half of the year and can’t wait 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 second 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.”