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Politics

Florida Tourists at Record 89.3 Million

February 17, 2013 - 6:00pm


Travel to the Sunshine State increased 2.3 percent in the past year, pushing the number of Floridians in the tourism industry over the 1 million mark, according to the states tourism arm.

The preliminary numbers from Visit Florida put the number of 2012 visitors to Florida at 89.3 million, surpassing the record-setting 87.3 million tourists recorded in 2011.

The increase in both foreign and domestic travel to Florida also pushed the number of jobs considered directly related to tourism to 1,030,600 in 2012, 33,300 more than in 2011.

With the hospitality sector ending the year up 30,300 jobs, its clear that more visitors means more jobs for Florida families, Gov. Rick Scott stated in a release.

If the overall number becomes the official count, it would mark the second consecutive year Florida has increased its tourism numbers by 2 million.

A study by Smith Travel Research indicates Florida has outpaced U.S. tourism by 0.3 percentage points.

Scott has proposed increasing Visit Floridas budget to $75 million, a $31.5 million increase from the current year.

The increase in tourism also means more money for Florida, with tourism and recreation taxable sales for the first 11 months of 2012 up 6.9 percent from the same period in 2011.

The December numbers were not available.

Hotel room occupancy also grew 3.2 percent.

The Visit Florida numbers also put overseas travel to Florida above 10 million for the first time, a 9 percent increase from 2011 to 10.2 million. Meanwhile, Canadians increased their trips to Florida by 7.3 percent year-to-year, accounting for 3.6 million visits last year.

Floridians also were a little more mobile last year, with in-state trips increasing 1.2 percent from 2011 to 2012, accounting for 20.3 million pleasure trips

We are incredibly encouraged by the tourism industrys record numbers in 2012 and look forward to continuing to build on this momentum in 2013 to make Florida the No. 1 travel destination in the world, Visit Florida President and CEO Will Seccombe stated in a release.

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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