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Politics

Florida Tourism Off to Record Start in 2013

August 13, 2013 - 6:00pm

With unemployment in Florida dropping below the national average in recent months, the Sunshine State received more good economic news Wednesday: the states important tourism industry, traditionally one of the pillars of the states economy, is in excellent shape.

On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott announced 23.4 million tourists visited Florida in the second quarter of 2013. This makes the period the second largest quarter ever for tourists and represents a 2.6 percent increase over the same period in 2012. Scott teamed up with Visit Florida, the states tourism outreach agency, to make the announcement on Wednesday morning.

Todays news from Visit Florida demonstrates Its Working. Floridas tourism industry is critical to Florida families as it serves as a vital source of revenue to the state and a key driver of employment," Scott said on Wednesday. Florida just experienced its largest second-quarter visitation ever, combined with a record first quarter. The Sunshine State is now on pace to generate an unprecedented number of jobs and economic opportunities for Floridas families.

Visit Florida and Scott pointed to a strong start in 2013. In the first half of the year, 49.6 million tourists visited Florida, the largest number of tourists ever to visit Florida during a half-year period.

Having run television ads in markets across the nation, Visit Florida officials said their marketing campaign was raking in dividends for the Sunshine State.

Were up nearly 2 million visitors who increased their spending by more than $1.7 billion, said Tammy Gustafson, chairwoman of Visit Floridas board of directors. This continued momentum is a testament to the strength of Visit Floridas marketing efforts, the power of the Sunshine State brand and the dedication of the nearly 1.1 million Floridians who work in the states tourism industry.

Following up two consecutive record years with back-to-back record quarters so far in 2013 proves we are well-positioned to make Florida the No. 1 travel destination in the world, said Will Seccombe, the president and CEO of Visit Florida.

Tourists added $33.2 billion to Floridas economy from January to May 2013, a 5.5 percent increase from that period last year.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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