During a press conference at the Brevard Zoo this morning, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida set another record in tourism by welcoming the highest number of visitors in the state’s history with 112.8 million in 2016. This is the sixth consecutive record year for visitation to Florida, exceeding the previous high of 106.6 million in 2015 by 5.9 percent. Tourism jobs also hit a record high in 2016 of 1.4 million jobs, exceeding the previous record in 2015.
Governor Scott said, “Today, I am proud to announce that Florida has once again welcomed a record number of tourists with 112.8 million visitors to the state in 2016. Visitors spent $109 billion and supported a record 1.4 million Florida jobs in 2016 – a testament to the vital importance of tourism to our growing economy.
“I have seen firsthand how tourism impacts our state. Since I have been in office, we have made important investments in VISIT FLORIDA and broken record after record of visitors, added more than a million new residents and seen Florida’s private sector create more than 1.25 million new jobs. Unfortunately, even with these incredible successes, politicians in the Florida House are trying to eliminate VISIT FLORIDA. I don’t understand how anyone can look at Florida’s booming tourism industry, and the more than 1.4 million jobs it supports, and vote to kill it. The legislation the Florida House is pushing puts more than 1.4 million jobs at risk and we cannot let that happen. We have to fight to continue investing in our tourism industry so we can keep breaking records and adding even more jobs.
“Over the past week, I have traveled the state meeting with small business owners, economic development leaders, tourism leaders, community members and hardworking Floridians who all had a clear message – Florida’s economy needs tourism. Last year, Florida was challenged like never before as we faced the Zika virus, two hurricanes and the terror attack at Pulse Nightclub. In the face of adversity, we continued in our mission to promote our great state and thanks to the hard work of VISIT FLORIDA, we continue to see record visitors to Florida.”
In 2015, every 85 tourists supported one job. Today, VISIT FLORIDA data shows that every 76 tourists support one job – proof that tourism continues to be a major and growing influence on job creation in Florida and that we must continue to invest in this vital part of our growing economy.
VISIT FLORIDA estimates that a record 98.0 million domestic visitors traveled to Florida in 2016, reflecting a 7.3 percent increase over 2015. Estimates also show that 11.1 million overseas visitors and 3.7 million Canadians came to the Sunshine State last year. Total enplanements at 18 Florida airports during 2016 increased 4.3 percent over the previous year, with a record 83.7 million enplaned passengers. For 2016, the average daily room rate (ADR) rose 2.0 percent and the number of rooms sold grew by 1.1 percent compared to 2015.
Six years of record-setting visitation would not be possible without a strong global marketing strategy focused on maximizing the economic impact of Florida tourism. To have achieved another tourism record in 2016 given all the challenges this state faced last year is an incredible testament to the cooperative relationship VISIT FLORIDA has with our more than 12,000 industry business partners around the state. Today’s announcement proves that sustained collective tourism marketing works and we have Governor Scott and our supporters in the Florida Legislature to thank for their unparalleled leadership over the past six years that has helped position our industry for this unprecedented success.
For fourth quarter 2016, estimates show a record 27.6 million people visited the Sunshine State. This represents the largest fourth quarter visitation number Florida has ever seen and reflects an increase of 6.1 percent over the same period in 2015. VISIT FLORIDA also reports that an estimated 24.0 million domestic visitors, 3.0 million overseas visitors and 587,000 Canadians traveled to Florida in the fourth quarter of 2016.
William D.Talbert III, CDME, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors, said, “Given the hyper-competitive global tourism marketplace, the series of challenging events the state faced and the uncertain economies of some of Florida’s key international markets, I am extremely encouraged to see that the programs VISIT FLORIDA and our statewide marketing partners conducted have resulted in another record year for visitation which ultimately supports and generates jobs throughout the state. This success in the face of tough times means it’s more important than ever to invest in smart tourism marketing.”
I would very much like to thank our wonderful Partners at the Brevard Zoo and Visit Space Coast, as well as many other local Partners in attendance, for being a part of today’s announcement. Keith Winsten, Executive Director of the Brevard Zoo, and Eric Garvey, Executive Director of Visit Space Coast, shared with those gathered what a tremendous year 2016 was for them locally and expressed how important VISIT FLORIDA’s efforts are to their success. They both also thanked Governor Scott for his incredible support for their area, the statewide tourism industry and of continued VISIT FLORIDA funding.
President & CEO