[Tallahassee, FL] Preliminary state estimates show about 86 million people visited Florida last year, a new record for the number of tourists, and possibly a sign the worst of the state’s economic woes are over.
“With such significant increases in jobs and visitors to the Sunshine State in 2011, tourism remains the state’s No. 1 industry and the leading driver of Florida’s rebounding economy,” said Gov. Rick Scott.
VisitFlorida, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation, said the number of visitors in 2011 was up 4.4% over 2010, and above the 84.5 million visitors the state had in 2007. VisitFlorida also said travel-related employment rose to a near record high of 1.013 million, adding 38,000 jobs, 3.9% more than in 2010.
“VisitFlorida and the entire Florida tourism industry are leading the way to ensuring that we become the No. 1 travel destination in the world,” added Scott.
The growth in Florida tourism was driven by overseas visits, which increased 16.1%, the state said. A 5.7% growth in Canadian visits put Canadian tourism at an all-time high.
Also, it was a banner year for Florida residents vacationing in their own state, VisitFlorida said.
“Since Florida relies on tourism to generate nearly a quarter of the state’s sales tax revenue and to employ over one million Floridians, it’s very encouraging to see that the industry experienced a record year,” Tony Lapi, chairman of the VisitFlorida board, said in a statement.
Preliminary data from airports showed a nearly 12% increase in commercial air travel, as well.
By: The News Service of Florida
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