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Florida Draws 50 Million Visitors in First 6 Months of the Year, Boosting Tax Revenue

| August 19, 2014

It's like old times.

It’s like old times.

The state’s tourism marketing arm said Tuesday that Florida continues to attract a record numbers of visitors — and their money.

Visit Florida President Will Seccombe told Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet that an estimated 24 million visitors came to the Sunshine State from April to June, which represents a 3 percent increase from the second quarter of 2013.

“If you think about how a lot of people came to Florida, they came here as tourists first,” Scott said.

The first quarter also saw about a 2.5 percent increase in visitors from the same period a year earlier, with the number of people visiting Florida in 2014 now around 50 million.

“While the numbers are exciting, I think probably the most important to everybody in this room is the fact that spending is up even more,” Seccombe said.

Visitors spent $35.7 billion from January to May this year, up 7.4 percent from the same period in 2013, according to Visit Florida. That translates into increased sales-tax revenue for the state, Seccombe said.

Seccombe estimated that 24 percent of the sales taxes collected in Florida during the second quarter were the result of people traveling into the state.

The goal for Scott and Visit Florida remains 100 million visitors within a single year, though lawmakers gave the governor less than three-fourths of the $100 million for tourism marketing that he said was needed this year to reach that goal.

For all of 2013, the state welcomed an estimated 94.7 million tourists, about a 3.5 percent over 2012.

The $74 million allocated by legislators for tourism spending is still a boost from 2013, when Visit Florida was budgeted $36 million.

Seccombe said the additional money allows Visit Florida to market year-round.

“This is the first year we had a winter weather-driven campaign in our major markets, and it happened to coincide with the polar vortex,” he said.

The state estimates that 1.15 million Floridians, out of a workforce of 9.6 million, have travel-related employment.

While domestic travel dominates the visitor numbers, Visit Florida estimated there were 2.8 million overseas tourists in the second quarter of this year, a 6.2 percent increase from a year earlier.

Canadians represented 1 million visitors, a 1.6 percent increase quarter to quarter. Also, the state estimates 3.7 million Floridians remained in the state for “pleasure trips” during the quarter.

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

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3 Responses for “Florida Draws 50 Million Visitors in First 6 Months of the Year, Boosting Tax Revenue”

  1. Steve Wolfe says:

    We stayed here for vacation. Finally got to take the grandkids to the mouse. We also have a fine Atlantic beach, and between parks, toys, critters and our own beautiful pool, home is now vacation land. Or, vacationland is now home…But with red light cameras, falling house values, highest unemployment in a state that is an international destination plus some ametuerish, greedy, sophomoric politicians, Flagler County struggles to find the economic nadir in the only 12 month vacation land in the 48 contiguous states. It’s as if our local governments throw out the welcome mat. No, I mean they throw it out with the rest of our refuse in the Volusia landfill. They say, “We’re open for business! Come on down so we can show you why no one else wants to invest here either!”

  2. confidential says:

    We have to welcome and preserve our tourist, specially those snow bird Canadians that buy homes in Florida and maintain them year around to vacation up to 5 months of the year only. They contribute to our tax base more than any of us year around, as they do not get homestead exemption.
    They provide jobs for local contractors as they maintain their landscape, pools and general care of their house year around and only use our infrastructure ( like roads tear and wear) part of the year and when they are here in the winter months, they spend more as tourist than we do. Also our Canadians snow birds that buy houses here for vacation and can only do it paying cash for them, are upper middle class and generally retired professionals or still active business owners spending in our Florida winter paradise part of the year and contributing to the enhancement of our communities and culture. I know it well because I have some Canadian neighbors in our block. Maybe city and county should be directing some more of their Florida advertisement to them in Canada as well.
    My sincere Welcome to them all…and please keep on coming to our USA.

  3. Palm Coast, Everywhere but Florida says:

    Florida, a great place to visit but not such a great place to live. The Florida of my youth is gone forever, we now have an extension of the Mid-Atlantic and NE parts of the country. Such is progress.

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