Continuing his focus on job creation and promoting Florida as a premier tourism destination, Governor Rick Scott assisted travelers at Tampa International Airport during his eighth "Let's Get to Work!' Day. Every 85 visitors to the Sunshine State create one Florida job, and more than half of Florida's visitors (52.7 percent) arrive by plane, according to VISIT FLORIDA.
Tourism generated $67.3 billion in direct economic impact to Florida in 2011, which was up $4.5 billion over the previous year. In addition, Florida's airports account for more than $97 billion in annual economic activity, and 36 percent of Florida's international trade dollars are generated by air cargo shipments.
"Tourism remains a top job creator and a leading driver of Florida's rebounding economy," said Governor Scott. "Florida's tourism success is directly linked to the people who work at our airports to help our visitors have a great travel experience."
Governor Scott started his workday in the airport's communications center answering phone calls from travelers, managing the airport's paging system, monitoring alarms and taking security calls. He later had lunch with airport employees and listened to their ideas for making Florida the greatest state to live, work and play.
After lunch, the Governor worked at the ticket counter for Southwest Airlines. Southwest is the airport's largest carrier, providing 68 nonstop daily flights to 30 cities, and accounting for 31 percent of the airport's passengers and more than 320 jobs. For his final duty of the day Governor Scott worked as a skycap, greeting arriving visitors, carrying their luggage and assisting them through the airport.
Airport CEO Joe Lopano discussed with Governor Scott the airport's role in economic development, as well as the possibility of new international flights to Panama, Colombia, Brazil and Germany. Florida had 9.3 million overseas visitors last year, and nearly 1.5 million people from Brazil visited Florida last year, making it the top country of origin for overseas visitors.
"Working at the airport today helped me identify ways our tourism industry can grow," said Governor Rick Scott. "Tampa International Airport and all of Florida's tourism industry partners help make our state the top travel destination in the world."
Tampa International Airport is one of four large hub airports in Florida. Together with the airlines and other businesses operating from Tampa International, the airport accounts for about 7,500 jobs. Florida's other large airports are Miami International, Orlando International and Fort Lauderdale International, and no other state has as many, except for California.