|Governor Scott: Florida Welcomed Record 105 Million Visitors in 2015|
During a press conference at Epcot this morning, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida set another record in tourism by welcoming 105 million visitors in 2015. This is the fifth consecutive record year for visitation to Florida, exceeding the previous high of 98.5 million in 2014 by 6.6 percent. The average number of direct travel-related jobs in 2015 was also a record high, with 1,199,200 Floridians employed in the tourism industry – up 53,400 or 4.7 percent over the same period last year. Click here to see a quick YouTube video of the announcement.
Governor Scott said, “I am proud to announce that Florida has surpassed our tourism goal and welcomed an historic 105 million visitors to our state in 2015. The number of travel-related jobs also reached a record high, with 1.2 million Floridians employed in the tourism industry. Tourism plays an important role in supporting our economy, and we will continue to make strategic investments in the tourism industry to keep Florida on track to becoming first for jobs. With five consecutive record years for tourism, it is time to set our goal even higher, and I look forward to welcoming 115 million visitors to the Sunshine State this year.”
VISIT FLORIDA estimates that a record 89.8 million domestic visitors traveled to Florida in 2015, reflecting an 8.0 percent increase over 2014. Estimates also show that 11.2 million overseas visitors and 4.0 million Canadians came to the Sunshine State last year. Total enplanements at 18 Florida airports during 2015 increased 8.2 percent over the previous year, representing a record 6.1 million more enplaned passengers than in 2014.
Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, who was on hand for the announcement, said, “As home of the most popular theme park in the world, we’re thrilled to contribute to the record number of visitors to Florida — and the jobs and economic opportunities that tourism helps to create.”
Tourism and recreation taxable sales for Florida increased every month year-over-year from January through November 2015 (last reported month), representing an 8.6 percent increase over the same period in 2014. For 2015, the average daily room rate (ADR) rose 5.9 percent and the number of rooms sold grew by 4.5 percent compared to 2014. Florida’s average occupancy rate for 2015 was 72.0 percent, an increase of 3.2 percent over 2014. This represents a record year for the statewide calendar year occupancy rate, exceeding the previous high of 69.8 percent in 2014.
John Tomlin, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors, said, “Achieving record visitation for five consecutive years, including reaching 105 million visitors in 2015, is a testament to the strong industry alignment between VISIT FLORIDA and our tourism Partners. Thanks to the visionary support of Governor Scott and the Florida legislature, together we have built a solid foundation that will enable us to reach our goal of generating $100 billion in visitor spending by 2020.”
For fourth quarter 2015, preliminary estimates show a record 25.2 million people visited the Sunshine State. This represents the largest fourth quarter visitation number Florida has ever seen and reflects an increase of 6.7 percent over the same period in 2014. VISIT FLORIDA also reports that an estimated 2.9 million overseas visitors and 671,000 Canadians traveled to Florida in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Five years of record-setting visitation does not happen by accident. It’s the direct result of a global marketing strategy focused on maximizing the economic impact of Florida tourism. Today’s announcement shows tourism marketing works and we have Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature to thank for their unparalleled leadership and support that has the Sunshine State on track to become the No. 1 travel destination in the world.
Here are the reactions of other industry leaders to today’s record announcement:
George Aguel, President and CEO of Visit Orlando, said, “Visit Orlando is delighted that Governor Scott and VISIT FLORIDA have chosen Orlando to share this milestone tourism accomplishment for our state. This news aligns nicely with Orlando’s record visitation last year of over 62 million visitors and a prediction of another record year for 2015, ensuring our unique position as the most visited destination in the nation.
DT Minich, President and CEO of Experience Kissimmee, said, “These record numbers are a direct result of the dedicated efforts of VISIT FLORIDA and fellow tourism leaders throughout the state. We’re proud to be a part of the engine attracting visitors to Florida and applaud Governor Scott’s unwavering support of the industry.”
Bill Talbert, Vice Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and President & CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, said, “Florida’s tourism continues to achieve records upon records thanks to the extraordinary efforts of VISIT FLORIDA and our tourism industry partners who work tirelessly to attract visitors to our beautiful diverse state. New and established tourism-related businesses are fueling growth, generating new jobs and paving the way for new milestones. We are fortunate to have a Governor and Legislature that support our industry and VISIT FLORIDA in reaching and surpassing goals for Florida’s tourism today and into the future.”
Andrew Hertz, Immediate Past Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and President & General Manager of Miami Seaquarium, said, “We know that Florida is the best vacation destination in the world, but it takes an incredible team effort to let the world know all we have to offer. VISIT FLORIDA has been the perfect model of how a public-private partnership works on behalf of the tourism industry and the people of the State of Florida. Five years of record year-over-year growth shows that the Governor and the Legislature are wise to continue to invest in Florida’s future by their funding of VISIT FLORIDA.”
Carol Dover, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Public Affairs Committee and President & CEO of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, said, “The success seen here in the Sunshine State is off the charts! We are very proud that 105 million visitors took the opportunity to experience our incredible restaurants, hotels and attractions that offer world-class service, provided by 1.2 million dedicated Floridians. We are grateful to Governor Scott and Florida lawmakers for recognizing the industry’s achievements and ensuring that our state’s economy will continue to thrive. With their support, VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing strategies are continuing to work wonders and we look forward to a sixth consecutive year of record-breaking numbers.”
Bill Lupfer, Member of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and President & CEO of the Florida Attractions Association, said, “As a vital part of Florida’s tourism industry, Florida attractions celebrate five consecutive years of record breaking visitation. Florida’s world-renowned attractions and diverse destinations continue to set the industry standard, and we applaud our partners and the support of Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature.”
Mark Wilson, President & CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, said, “Congratulations to VISIT FLORIDA and Florida’s tourism industry for achieving a historic 105 million visitors to Florida in 2015. When visitors travel to Florida, they learn about our top ten school rankings, low crime rate, zero personal income tax, business-friendly climate and family-friendly brand, and often return to open a business and create jobs for Floridians. The Florida Chamber is proud to celebrate this milestone, and looks forward to making Florida even more competitive in the future.”
Malinda Horton, Member of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and Executive Director of the Florida Association of Museums, said, “The Florida tourism industry continues to drive the positive statewide economic outlook with the leadership of Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature’s support of VISIT FLORIDA, the public-private partnership for tourism marketing. This fifth consecutive year of record breaking tourism growth could only have been achieved with high-quality visitor valued offerings statewide. The diverse range of world-class activities from sporting events to museums, a happening culinary scene, and great Florida weather have been harmoniously combined into a win-win vacation for travelers and Florida residents who benefit from robust job growth, a booming tourism expansion construction effort, and increased sales tax revenues that fuel our economy.”
Samantha Padgett, Member of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and Vice President & General Counsel for the Florida Retail Federation, said, “We want to applaud the tremendous coordinated efforts of Governor Scott, our legislative leaders and VISIT FLORIDA in attracting more than 105 million tourists to our state. Record tourism means great news for Florida’s 270,000 retailers who depend on Sunshine State travelers to purchase gifts and memories from their visit.”
Dan Rowe, Member of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and President & CEO of Visit Panama City Beach, said, “We have had a run of record-breaking years in terms of visitation, and 2015 was no exception. VISIT FLORIDA has been a great partner as Panama City Beach continues to grow, becoming a year-round destination and more than just a beautiful beach. As we strive to offer guests additional reasons to spend their vacation days with us, Panama City Beach has seen our fall visitation nearly double in just 5 years, and in 2015 tourism brought more than $1.4 billion in direct spending. For Panama City Beach, and for the entire state of Florida, tourism is a key economic driver that Governor Scott and leaders in the Florida Legislature have done a terrific job supporting.”
Virginia Haley, Member of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and President of Visit Sarasota County, said, “VISIT FLORIDA’s leadership has given our industry the marketing platforms that have driven this success. Here at Visit Sarasota County, we can see the results of our partnership with VISIT FLORIDA in our tourism records.”
Joe Lopano, CEO of the Tampa International Airport, said “This is great news! Governor Scott set a goal of serving 100 million visitors in 2015 and thanks to VISIT FLORIDA’s outstanding marketing programs, we surpassed that goal. Every part of the state benefits from that commitment to growing our tourism economy. At Tampa International Airport, we’re on pace to serve a record number of passengers in 2016, which means more people enjoying our beaches, great restaurants, museums and attractions. That wouldn’t be possible without the support of all of our partners in Tallahassee.”
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.
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