Florida tourism set another record by welcoming the highest number of quarterly visitors in the state’s history with 31.1 million in the first quarter of 2017. This represents a 2.5 percent increase over the same period in 2016. To add to this great news, during the recent special session called by Governor Scott, the Legislature allocated $76 million to fully fund VISIT FLORIDA to continue to market Florida as a premier vacation destination worldwide.
Governor Scott said, “I called a special session to fight for jobs, tourism and education, and I am proud to announce a major win for Florida families. This special session, we’ve increased the per-pupil spending to an all-time high, we’ve established a flexible, transparent economic development program and we’ve fully funded VISIT FLORIDA so we can continue to break visitation records. We know that the most important things to a family are a good-paying job and a great education for their children, and these major investments will help us continue to create opportunities across our state for generations to come.”
VISIT FLORIDA President & CEO Ken Lawson said, “This victory would not have been possible without the help of the Governor, the Legislature and all of our Industry Partners. Thanks to your dedication and support, VISIT FLORIDA is now fully funded and we can continue aggressively marketing our state to visitors around the world. With Governor Scott leading the way, Partners such as Jungle Island, Sawgrass Recreation Park, Medieval Times, ResortQuest and thousands more can continue attracting record numbers of visitors to businesses across the state. I am forever grateful for your hard work.”
Estimates from VISIT FLORIDA show a record 27.1 million domestic visitors traveled to Florida in Q1 2017, reflecting a 3.2 percent increase over the same period last year. Estimates also show that 2.7 million overseas visitors and 1.3 million Canadians came to the Sunshine State in January-March 2017. Total enplanements at Florida’s 18 major airports in Q1 2017 increased 1.6 percent over the same period the previous year, with a record 22.7 million enplaned passengers. For Q1 2017, the number of rooms sold grew by 2.2 percent and the hotel occupancy rate rose 0.7 percent compared to Q1 2016.
Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association President & CEO Carol Dover said, “Florida’s hospitality industry is thrilled our elected leaders coalesced to invest in VISIT FLORIDA. The overall health of Florida’s economy depends on visitors selecting the Sunshine State as their leading destination. With 31.1 million visitors in the first quarter of 2017, this optimal funding builds on the state’s marketing momentum and attracts commerce that benefits local businesses and state revenues.”