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Gov. Scott: First Quarter of 2017 Sets Florida Visitation Record

May 15th, 2017 — 2:08pm

Q1 2017 Visitor Numbers Press Conference photoI am proud to share that during a press conference at Jungle Island in Miami this morning, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida set another record by welcoming 31.1 million visitors in the first quarter of 2017, the highest quarterly number ever. This represents a 2.5 percent increase over the same period in 2016. Even though Florida’s tourism industry is booming, the Florida Legislature cut VISIT FLORIDA’s budget by 67 percent for the upcoming fiscal year, putting Florida’s incredible growth and the many families and businesses that rely on the tourism industry at risk.

Governor Scott said, “I am proud to announce today that Florida set another record by welcoming 31.1 million visitors during the first quarter of 2017, the highest number of quarterly visitors in the state’s history. This historic number would not have been possible without the significant funding we have invested in VISIT FLORIDA over the past few years. It is disappointing that the Florida Legislature made a shortsighted decision to jeopardize the growth of our tourism industry and the 1.4 million jobs that rely on it by cutting funding to VISIT FLORIDA by 67 percent. Now is not the time to take our foot off the gas. In business, you would never stop marketing when you start to see great results. Instead of decimating funding to VISIT FLORIDA, we should be investing in tourism marketing so we can continue to bring record visitors to our state.”

VISIT FLORIDA estimates that 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.

During my portion of the event today, I explained that VISIT FLORIDA will continue to focus on the task at hand, which is successfully marketing small, medium and large communities so the tourism industry can continue to create jobs. Because the Legislature decided to inadequately fund VISIT FLORIDA, our organization is going to have to make tough decisions in the coming weeks and will not be able to compete with destinations like California and Texas. We will strive every day so Florida does not become another case study like other states who lost billions of dollars in revenue due to cutting tourism marketing dollars.

To view additional Florida visitor data, go to 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.


Ken Lawson
President & CEO
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VISIT FLORIDA Honors Arthur Hertz’s Contributions to the Tourism Industry

May 5th, 2017 — 1:36pm

arthurhertzToday the Florida tourism industry mourns the passing of one of its greatest leaders.  Arthur Hertz was a pioneer in local and state tourism development, including serving as Vice Chairman of the Florida Commission on Tourism and was part of the team that led to the formation of VISIT FLORIDA.  Arthur served as VISIT FLORIDA’s Chairman of the Board of Directors in 1998-1999, was inducted into the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame in 2004 and continued his service as a member of the Florida Council of Tourism Leaders.   Continue reading »


Ken Lawson
President & CEO

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VISIT FLORIDA Still Fighting for Full Funding

April 5th, 2017 — 2:59pm

Our fight in Tallahassee to fully fund VISIT FLORIDA continues.  We still need our Industry Partners to help us in this important endeavor.  Recently, the Florida Senate included Governor Scott’s full $76 million for VISIT FLORIDA in their budget.  The Florida House, however, has cut our organization’s funding by 67 percent to $25 million, an amount that would cost tens of thousands of jobs.  Please contact your local legislators to respectfully tell them why fully funding VISIT FLORIDA is critical to 1.4 million jobs in our state. Continue reading »


Ken Lawson
President & CEO

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Tallahassee Area Yellow Cab Shows Support for VISIT FLORIDA

March 21st, 2017 — 12:55pm

FullSizeRTo show support for a fully funded VISIT FLORIDA, Tallahassee area Yellow Cab has equipped 30 taxi cabs with toppers to share the message to Tallahassee residents that “Tourism Works for Florida.”  The company placed the advertisements to promote the 1.4 million jobs created by the tourism industry in Florida.  The toppers, which are being provided by Yellow Cab at no cost to VISIT FLORIDA, will remain on the taxi cabs throughout the 2017 Legislative session. Last year, Florida welcomed a record 112.8 million visitors.  To learn more, go to www.tourismworksforflorida.org.


Ken Lawson
President & CEO

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Importance of Our Industry on Full Display at Florida Tourism Day 2017

March 15th, 2017 — 1:01pm

Fight for Florida Jobs Rally at Florida Tourism Day 2017Yesterday, VISIT FLORIDA and nine other statewide organizations hosted the industry’s annual Florida Tourism Day at the Capitol. This year, there is no doubt that because of the participation of more than 600 of our Industry Partners from 44 counties, Tourism Day was a complete success.  The strength and importance of our industry was on full display for lawmakers in the Capitol.  Without the support of the job creators in our tourism industry, we would be fighting an uphill battle on our own. Continue reading »


Ken Lawson
President & CEO

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