Figures for tourism in Florida continue to smash records all round. Visitors for the first quarter this year were the highest for a three-month period ever; Orlando set a historic high for metro areas in America; and revised statistics for last year, show that those on holiday in Florida were nearer the 100 million mark than originally calculated.
Florida ticks all the right boxes when it comes to holidays. It boasts a year-round warm climate – especially attractive to American and Canadian snowbirds in winter – and stunning scenery, and its long list of theme parks probably ranks as the best in the world. These attractions combined with an uptick in the world economy and low oil prices mean more people are visiting Florida than ever before.
Between January and March this year, Florida received 28.4 million visitors, 6.2 per cent more than the same quarter in 2014. And more importantly, the highest quarterly figure ever. The state’s tourism authority Visit Florida estimates that 2.9 million foreigners chose Florida for a holiday in the first quarter of this year, a record high and 7.1 per cent more than last year. This figure doesn’t include the 1.7 million Canadians, also the highest number ever recorded, and up 1.2 per cent on Q1 2014.
The tourist industry is hugely important for the Florida economy and Governor Rick Scott claims that one job is created for every five people who holiday in Florida. For the Chief Executive of Visit Florida Will Seccombe, every employment opportunity created in tourism leads to another one outside the sector. In Q1 this year, there were 1.19 million people in Florida with jobs in tourism-related industries, 4.8 per cent more than the same time last year, another record.
Revised figures for 2014 also reveal some historic highs. According to the latest estimates from Visit Florida, 98.9 million people visited the Sunshine State last year, the highest figure ever. Within these figures, Orlando took the lion’s share with more than 62 million visitors. This represents a record not only for Orlando, but also for the US as a whole. Hotel revenue soared in the area with 32 million Orlando hotel nights sold in 2014 and bed tax collections exceeded US$200 million for the first time.
Tourism authorities point to the new theme parks in Orlando as part of the reason behind the surge in visitors last year. New Fantasyland was finished at Walt Disney World Resort and the long-awaited Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened at Universal. New arrivals this year include I-Drive 360 and Disney Springs.
For Governor Scott, these record visitor figures go beyond hotel revenue and job creation. He sees clear benefits for the state as a sought-after relocation destination and by extension, for the Florida property market. “When tourists come here, they see the weather and people are nice so they move their businesses down here and they buy our homes. This is the greatest place ever to be,” he said.
Source: Orlando Business Journal