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Florida’s Tourism Industry Has Much to Celebrate

By on May 9th, 2013 — 5:13pm

National Travel & Tourism Week logoThis week, Florida joins the rest of the nation in celebrating the importance of tourism during the annual National Travel & Tourism Week.  Held the first full week in May each year since 1984, tourism entities across America hold rallies, awards luncheons and other activities to help spotlight the power of travel.

Destination marketing organizations throughout the Sunshine State have been hosting inspiring events that are drawing lots of attendance and attention.  VISIT FLORIDA was delighted to support our industry Partners at several of these events, providing presentations on tourism’s role as Florida’s leading economic and employment driver.

Here are some great examples:

Paul Phipps, VISIT FLORIDA’s new Chief Marketing Officer, was asked to be a guest speaker at both the Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel Team Tourism Travel Rally Day on May 3 and the Visit South Walton National Travel & Tourism Week Kick-Off Luncheon on May 8.  In addition to his presentation, Paul authored a guest opinion column in the Fort Myers News-Press that spoke to the impact tourism has on the quality of life of all Floridians.

Susannah Costell0, VISIT FLORIDA’s Vice President of Global Brand, addressed the attendees at the Palm Beach County Convention & Visitors Bureau Travel Rally Day Luncheon.  Susannah told the crowd about VISIT FLORIDA’s latest efforts to the market the Sunshine State brand, including our new “Must Be the Sunshine” ad campaign and revamped VISITFLORIDA.com website.

Carol Dover, VISIT FLORIDA Board member and President & CEO of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, shared the message of the value of tourism and the importance of VISIT FLORIDA’s increased public funding.  Carol spoke at both the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce Tourism Luncheon on May 7 and the Visit Panama City Beach National Travel & Tourism Day event on May 8.  

Along with other representatives from the travel industry, I was given the opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade in Washington, D.C. on May 7.  The purpose of the hearing was to “examine tourism employment trends and ways to promote growth of this vital industry.”  Here is a brief synopsis of my testimony:

Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, described the importance of the tourism industry to his state.  He explained, “Logging over 500 million vacation nights in the Sunshine State last year, Florida’s visitors spent $71.8 billion on hotels, attractions, restaurants, retail and recreation.  To put that in perspective, there are more people visiting the Sunshine State each day – nearly 1.6 million – than live in 11 U.S. states and they spend nearly $196 million a day in Florida.  This tourism spending generated $4.3 billion in sales tax in 2012, meaning more than 23% of all the state’s sales tax collections were paid by people who live outside Florida.  We know that every 85 visitors to the state create or support one new Florida job.  Today, the tourism industry provides employment for 1,053,000 Floridians, with the number of jobs supported by visitors having grown for 36 straight months.”

For more details, click here to see a video of the hearing.

Florida’s tourism industry has much to celebrate this week and all year round.  Coming off of two consecutive record years for visitation and visitor spend, our collective efforts have the Sunshine State poised to become the No. 1 travel destination in the world.


Will Seccombe
President & CEO
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