|Florida Visitation and Spending Growth Continues into 2012|
According to preliminary estimates* we released today, 23.4 million visitors came to Florida in the first quarter of 2012 (January-March), an increase of 2.4 percent over the same period in 2011. Direct travel-related employment in Florida also rose 1.9 percent to 1,027,500, adding 19,200 jobs since this time one year ago and representing the largest employment total since first quarter 2008.
“On the heels of a record year for the Florida tourism industry in 2011, it’s encouraging to see the trend of more visitors and more jobs extending into 2012,” said Governor Rick Scott. “As the state’s top industry and the leading driver of a rebounding economy, VISIT FLORIDA and the entire Florida tourism industry are well on their way to making the Sunshine State the No. 1 travel destination in the world.”
An estimated 19.7 million domestic visitors came to Florida during the first quarter of 2012, representing a 1.2 percent increase from the same period in 2011. Florida experienced a 2.7 percent increase in Canadian visitors at 1.4 million and a 13 percent increase in overseas visitors with 2.4 million in Q1 2012 compared to Q1 2011.
“The more than one million Floridians who are employed in the tourism industry take great pride in serving our visitors, who help generate nearly a quarter of the state’s sales tax revenue,” said Tony Lapi, Chairman of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and President and CEO of ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort. “We know that every 85 visitors support one Florida job, so the continued increase in travelers to our great state equals a strengthened Florida economy and much-needed employment.”
Primary data collected at Florida’s 14 major airports in the first quarter of 2012 reflect a 2.5 percent increase in total enplanements from the same period in 2011. Tourism and recreation taxable sales for Florida increased year-over-year in January and February 2012 (last reported month), representing an 8.7 percent increase over the same period in 2011. The Average Daily Room Rate rose 5.7 percent and the occupancy rate for Florida hotels increased 2.7 percentage points in Q1 2012 compared to Q1 2011.
I’m pleased to say the big story for tourism in 2012 is that we are building on a record year with continued growth and increased visitor spending. These increases simply would not be possible without the commitment of our hospitality industry employees, the strength of Florida’s tourism product, and the creative and strategic marketing efforts being implemented by VISIT FLORIDA and our partners statewide.
*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