|Estimated 23.3 Million Visited Florida in First Quarter 2011|
I’m pleased to share VISIT FLORIDA’s preliminary estimates* of visitors to Florida for the first quarter of 2011 (January – March) which show an estimated 23.3 million travelers visited the Sunshine State. This represents an increase of 3.3 percent from the same period in 2010.
Preliminary estimates for the first quarter of 2011 show a 2.0 percent increase in domestic visitors, a 14.4 percent increase in the overseas market and an 8.1 percent increase in Canadian travel to Florida. Of the 23.3 million visitors Florida welcomed this past quarter, domestic visitation represents 19.8 million or an estimated 84.8 percent of total; overseas visitors at 2.1 million or 9.1 percent of total; and Canadian visitors at 1.4 million or 6.1 percent of total. Florida’s tourism-related employment for the first quarter of 2011 was 1,003,200, up by 52,300 jobs, which reflects a 5.5 percent increase when compared to the same period of 2010.
“Tourism is a pillar of the Florida economy and I’m greatly encouraged by the increased number of visitors to the Sunshine State,” said Governor Rick Scott. “We all know visitors create jobs and I’m especially gratified to see that we now have over a million Florida residents employed in the tourism industry.”
Also up thus far in 2011, total enplanements at Florida’s 14 major airports rose by 3.5 percent from the same period in 2010 and Quarter One 2011 monthly hotel occupancy rates were up 4.4 percentage points over Quarter One 2010. The share of Florida residents taking in-state pleasure trips in the first quarter of 2011 was 63.4 percent, resulting in roughly 6.1 million in-state trips.
“Florida’s tourism industry is rebounding well after several challenging years,” said Ed Fouche, Chairman of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and Senior Vice President-Travel Industry Sales for Disney Destinations. “VISIT FLORIDA’s cooperative marketing efforts have certainly paid off and clearly demonstrate that well-executed tourism marketing is a smart investment.”
VISIT FLORIDA launched year-two of its highly successful tourism marketing campaign – Your Florida Side Is Calling – in January 2011 in key markets throughout the U.S. The campaign’s call to action directs consumers to VISITFLORIDA.com, the No. 1 trafficked state destination marketing organization website in the country. Visitors to the site are greeted by online “Insiders” and can view “Florida Live” filled with real-time photos, videos, blog posts, Twitter feeds, fishing reports, interactive maps and a host of other useful travel planning content. New this year is the ability for consumers to find VISITFLORIDA.com content in a mobile version. The campaign was also tweaked slightly to incorporate additional images of beaches, seafood and dining as a result of consumer focus groups held in the wake of the oil spill.
Year-one of the Your Florida Side Is Calling campaign generated more than 180,000 Florida trips that are directly attributable to the advertising. This resulted in more than $417 million in direct spending and generated $25 million in new state sales tax revenue. Overall, this equates to $147 in spending and $9 in state sales taxes returned for every advertising dollar invested. The number of incremental trips generated in 2010 was nearly 25 percent higher than the previous year and the ROI was nearly three times higher than in 2009.
These results speak to the strength of our advertising campaign and the economic impact that is generated by VISIT FLORIDA’s destination marketing efforts. I’m very proud to see that our messaging truly resonated with travelers.
*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.
President & CEO