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After registering a historic high in 2018, Florida tourism has broken its own records yet again in the first three months of this year. Both international and domestic figures soared to their highest ever. Florida theme parks continue to grow in popularity with 2019 forecast to set record visitors.

Record Q1 for Florida tourism

Florida tourism has been setting the benchmark for visitor figures over the last few years and broken its own record every time. 2019 looks set to be no exception. Statistics for the first three months of the year show more of the same.

Between January and March, some 35.7 million tourists visited the Sunshine State. This translates to a 5.8% increase on the same period in 2018. It also represents the highest ever figure for a Q1 and sets the trend for the rest of 2019.

Record for Orlando

Orlando is the main destination for Florida tourism and the city too set new records in 2018. 75 million tourists visited the theme park capital last year. This represents a 4.2% on the same period in 2018 and the highest ever figure for a Q1. International visitors numbered 6.48 million and rose by 5.4%. American tourists totalled 68.55 million and went up by 4.1%.

“It was another record-breaking year for Orlando,” said George Aguel, President of Visit Orlando. “We saw strong gains from all of our core countries, particularly from Latin America.” Visitors from Brazil rose by 8%, partly due to the rise in the number of direct flights from destinations such as Fortaleza in the Northeast.

Theme park records in 2018

A fundamental pillar of Florida tourism lies in the state’s theme parks. They too enjoyed a record year in 2018. Some 87.5 million people visited the eight largest theme parks last year. Several of these are in Orlando where the largest saw significant rises in the number of visitors.

SeaWorld and Disney’s Animal Kingdom registered the highest increases with a rise of 16% and 10% respectively. Animal Kingdom was the second most popular in the world behind Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. This theme park received 20.8 million visitors in 2018, up 2% on the previous year.

More records in 2019

After a sterling start to the year, Florida tourism looks set to repeat its record-breaking prowess in 2019. Tourism authorities predict strong visitor figures all round and are confident that the state will register the highest number of tourists ever this year.

Several theme parks will contribute to the increase in visitors with key new attractions. Among them is the Star Wars: Galaxy Edge, due to open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios this year and highly anticipated as one of the big draws for Florida tourism this year. Aguel attributed Orlando’s, and by extension, Florida’s success to “the special appeal of our destination that continues to grow and evolve”.

This appeal also has a direct effect on vacation rentals in the Sunshine State. Airbnb reported that it doubled its tax collections from Florida holiday lets in 2018.

(Sources: Orlando Rising, Biz Journals)

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