Governor Rick Scott today announced that according to preliminary estimates* released today by VISIT FLORIDA – the state’s official tourism marketing corporation – 94.7 million visitors came to Florida in 2013, an increase of 3.5 percent over 2012. This represents a record year for visitation to Florida, exceeding the previous high of 91.5 million in 2012. The number of direct travel-related jobs in 2013 was also a record high, with 1,088,200 Floridians employed in the tourism industry – up 2.9 percent from 2012.
Governor Rick Scott said, “With nearly 95 million visitors traveling to the Sunshine State, today’s news that Florida broke another record year for tourism is a victory for Florida families. Every 85 visitors to Florida equals one job in our state – and it is clear that more visitors to the Sunshine State means more jobs for Florida families. That is why my ‘It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget,’ commits $100 million to VISIT FLORIDA so we can grow more job opportunities for Florida families.”
“We are excited for our future in Florida and we are glad to be able to bring new jobs and economic growth to our community and to the state,” said Bill Davis, president of Universal Orlando Resort. “We are also grateful for the strong public-private partnership that continues to help our industry grow.”
Governor Scott made today’s announcement at the Universal Orlando Resort where they will be creating nearly 3,500 new jobs this year across their destination. Universal Orlando is currently constructing the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, adding a new on-site hotel and expanding their CityWalk Entertainment complex.
VISIT FLORIDA estimates that 11.5 million overseas visitors and 3.7 million Canadians came to Florida in 2013, both of which are record highs and represent 11.1 percent and 4.1 percent increases over 2012 respectively. Estimates reflect a 2.5 percent increase in domestic visitors to Florida in 2013 and show that Floridians took a record total of 20.1 million in-state pleasure trips.
“Three years of record-breaking visitation and a record number of tourism-related jobs proves that tourism continues to be a vital force in Florida,” said Tammy Gustafson, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors. “It also proves that our industry is directly tied to Florida’s economic growth. This means we cannot let go of our effort to continuously advance Florida tourism.”
Tourism and recreation taxable sales for Florida increased every month year-over-year from January through November 2013 (last reported month), representing a 5.9 percent increase over the same period in 2012. For 2013, the average daily room (ADR) rate rose 4.6 percent and the occupancy rate for Florida hotels increased 3.5 percent compared to 2012. Both ADR and occupancy increased every month year-over-year in 2013.
Preliminary data from Smith Travel Research indicates Florida tourism has been steadily regaining market share since January 2013, outpacing the rest of the U.S. by 1.3 percentage points. According to the same study, room revenue in Florida for 2013 was up 8.2 percent compared to 2012, while the U.S. is only up 6.2 percent.
“We are incredibly encouraged to see domestic, Canadian and overseas visitor numbers all peaking together in 2013, and look forward to continuing to build on this momentum in 2014 to make Florida the No. 1 travel destination in the world,” said Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA.
For fourth quarter 2013, preliminary estimates show a record 21.9 million people visited the Sunshine State. This represents the largest fourth quarter visitation number Florida has ever seen and reflects an increase of 2.2 percent over the same period in 2012. VISIT FLORIDA also reports that an estimated 3.2 million overseas visitors traveled to Florida in the fourth quarter of 2013, an increase of 12.1 percent, and 724,000 Canadians traveled to Florida, reflecting an increase of 4.2 percent over the same period in 2012.
To view additional Florida visitor data, go the Research page on VISIT FLORIDA’s media 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.
Here are the reactions of key industry leaders to today’s record visitation and employment announcement:
Bill Talbert, Member of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors Executive Committee and President & CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau
“As a founding partner of VISIT FLORIDA, we are thrilled with the tourism records being set by the State of Florida. Tourism is Miami’s #1 industry contributing to the economic well-being of the community with record tourism and jobs. We look forward to expanding our partnership with VISIT FLORIDA to ensure the continued growth at record levels of our tourism industry.”
Virginia Haley, Member of the VISIT FLORIDA Visitor Services Committee and President of Visit Sarasota County
“These numbers validate the public private partnership model of VISIT FLORIDA and the success that comes to the state’s economy when we all join together to promote Florida, the best tourism destination in the world.”
Carol Dover, Member of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and President & CEO of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association
“These record numbers indicate the hospitality and tourism industry in Florida is reaching grander levels of success under Governor Rick Scott’s leadership. We are thrilled to see millions upon millions of visitors taking advantage of world-class hotels, restaurants and attractions here in the Sunshine State and we are excited to watch these outstanding statistics continue to multiply in 2014 and in turn spur economic growth.”
Bill Lupfer, Member of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors Executive Committee and President & CEO of the Florida Attractions Association
“Florida is the finest tourism destination in the world, and three record-breaking years for the industry have solidified our position as the lifeblood of the state’s economy. We applaud Governor Scott’s support of the state’s tourism industry and look forward to expanding job opportunities for Floridians in 2014.”
Rick McAllister, Member of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and President & CEO of the Florida Retail Federation
“Florida’s retailers benefit from our state’s status as the premier destination for visitors nationwide and internationally, and the strong growth of tourism helped retailers create 55,000 jobs last year. We congratulate Florida’s leadership on the wise investment of resources in tourism marketing, which is clearly paying dividends for our state economy.”
Mark Wilson, President & CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce
“Tourists have choices, and when they want to go to paradise, they’re choosing Florida. Today’s record breaking tourism numbers are further proof that Florida’s global role as a top destination continues growing stronger, and as a result, Florida’s families and small businesses are benefiting.”
John Sebree, Senior Vice President of Public Policy for the Florida Association of Realtors
“A record year in tourism certainly means more visitors to our theme parks and beautiful beaches, but tourism also goes hand in hand with the strength of our real estate market. Many of the state’s domestic and international visitors decide to buy a Florida property and that, in turn, creates an even greater number of tourists and jobs. We have heard that the purchase of a home by someone outside Florida can create an additional 25 round trip flights per year and countless additional hotel nights for family and friends who then become tourists themselves to our beautiful state.”