Despite some challenges tourism in Florida is on a record pace
The numbers for tourism in the state of Florida for 2016 continue to show that the Sunshine State remains the hottest destination in the United States. People in record numbers continue to drive up the tourism numbers despite a year that saw two hurricanes hit the state and federal officials warn away pregnant women from Miami due to the Zika virus.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott will announced today that more than 85 million tourists visited the state during the first nine months of 2016. That puts Florida on pace to break the 2015 figure of 105 million tourists.
Last year Florida tourism became the first state in the country to cross the 100-million mark for out-of-state and international visitors.
State officials say that’s the highest nine-month total ever for tourism and a 5.5 percent increase over last year.
Scott in a statement said the record numbers show how well Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing arm, is doing its job. Incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran has questioned continued funding of the organization but the numbers show great success.
“The records amount to a 4.3 percent year-over-year increase, according to state tourism leaders. In the first quarter of the year, Florida had 30.1 million visitors. Another 27.3 million came in the second quarter, a 3.1 percent increase over the second quarter of 2015,” said Scott in a statement to the press released today.
The governor noted that record numbers of tourists visited the state despite the Zika outbreak, hurricanes and the tragic attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando that left 49 dead.
Meanwhile, Will Seccombe, president and chief executive officer from Visit Florida, the state’s tourism agency, said Orlando is still a tourism powerhouse in the state, even if the region’s underperforming compared to last year.
“It’s still the single-biggest destination in the state of Florida,” said Seccombe. “As big as Orlando is, we have so many other destinations around the state collectively growing.”
The Interstate 4 corridor from the Tampa Bay area to Daytona remains the states hottest tourist area. The region has a combination of the country’s best beaches combined with the most attractive theme parks in the world.
There is the Kennedy Space Center, Disney World, Universal Studios, Bush Gardens, and Legoland. Add to that the Gulf Beaches in St.Pete – Clerwater to go along with the Daytona – Melbourne Atlantic Ocean beaches that show why the I-4 corridor is a force.