Governor Scott announced today that according to preliminary estimates* released today by VISIT FLORIDA -- the state's official tourism marketing corporation -- 89.3 million visitors came to Florida in 2012, an increase of 2.3 percent over 2011. This represents a record year for visitation to Florida, exceeding the previous high of 87.3 million in 2011. The number of direct travel-related jobs in 2012 was also a record high, with 1,030,600 Floridians employed in the tourism industry.
"Welcoming two million more visitors in 2012 marks the second consecutive record year for tourism in the Sunshine State," Governor Scott said. "With the hospitality sector ending the year up 30,300 jobs, it's clear that more visitors means more jobs for Florida families. Our economy is headed in the right direction and with our Florida Families First Budget commitment of $75 million in funding to support VISIT Florida, we will continue to support even more economic growth."
VISIT FLORIDA estimates that 10.2 million overseas visitors and 3.6 million Canadians came to Florida in 2012, both of which are record highs and represent 9.0 percent and 7.3 percent increases over 2011 respectively. Estimates reflect a 1.2 percent increase in domestic visitors to Florida in 2012 and show that Floridians took a total of 20.3 million in-state pleasure trips.
"Surpassing the 10 million overseas visitor mark for the first time ever is a significant milestone for Florida's tourism industry," said Glenn Hastings, Chairman of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and Executive Director of the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council. "With over 10 percent of all Canadians traveling to Florida last year, we are exceedingly grateful for the loyalty of our friends and family to the North."
Tourism and recreation taxable sales for Florida increased every month year-over-year from January through November 2012 (last reported month), representing a 6.9 percent increase over the same period in 2011. For 2012, the average daily room rate rose 4.2 percent and the occupancy rate for Florida hotels increased 3.2 percentage points compared to 2011. Both ADR and occupancy increased every month year-over-year in 2012.
Preliminary data from Smith Travel Research indicates Florida tourism has been steadily regaining market share since January 2012, outpacing the rest of the U.S. by more than .3 percentage points. According to the same study, room revenue in Florida for 2012 was up 7.6 percent compared to 2011, while the U.S. is only up 7.3 percent.
"We are incredibly encouraged by the tourism industry's record numbers in 2012 and look forward to continuing to build on this momentum in 2013 to make Florida the No. 1 travel destination in the world," said Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA.
For fourth quarter 2012, estimates show 21.4 million people visited the Sunshine State. This reflects an increase of 1.8 percent over the same period in 2011. VISIT FLORIDA also reports that an estimated 2.8 million overseas visitors traveled to Florida in the fourth quarter of 2012, an increase of 8.0 percent, and 749,000 Canadians traveled to Florida, reflecting an increase of 9.6 percent over the same period in 2011.
To view additional Florida visitor data, go the Research page on VISIT FLORIDA's media website.
*Preliminary estimates are issued 45 days after the end of each calendar quarter. Final estimates are released when final data are received for all estimates in the report.