Florida is one of the top destinations for vacationers, and the state’s economy has seen a boost. Florida experienced record tourism numbers in the first quarter of 2023. Around 37.9 million visitors poured into the Sunshine State between January and March, the largest number of visitors ever recorded in a single quarter, according to Visit Florida estimates.
The tourism industry in Florida was worth over $100 billion in 2021, and much of that revenue supported 1.7 million Floridian jobs. Besides the dip in tourism during the pandemic, tourism growth has been on an upward trend for Florida year-over-year.
Approximately 34.6 million domestic visitors vacationed in Florida in the first quarter of 2023. About 1.8 million international visitors also traveled to Florida, an increase of 36% from the previous year, the closest that the state has been to full recovery of overseas visitors since lockdowns began in March 2020.
Visit Florida President and CEO Dana Young said that estimates show that 2023 is on track to continue its growth in tourism, remaining a popular place for families thanks to the state’s many beaches, theme parks, and outdoor activities.
"Each quarter shows that Florida is the most sought-after destination for visitors and we are excited to continue our efforts in welcoming more throughout the year. VISIT FLORIDA is proud of the work we have done with our partners in sharing Florida’s sunshine with the world," Young said in a news release.
The latest report from Destinations Florida, a statewide association that serves local tourism promotion, shows the importance of the tourism industry on Florida’s economy, noting that many of the state's services and infrastructure projects are funded by sales tax generated by out-of-state tourists.
Executive Director of Destinations Florida Robert Skrob said that the Legislature should prevent the use of tourist development taxes from being used for anything other than tourism promotion.
"From the huge economic impact tourism has on the state to the benefits residents experience in their everyday lives, tourism plays a vital role for all Floridians. In order to maintain those benefits, we must continue to invest in tourism promotion at the state and local levels," Skrob said.
The Destination Florida report states that there are existing obstacles to the Sunshine State’s tourism growth, including the anxiety felt by Americans around travel, financial concerns and inflation, and competition from overseas markets.
In order to stay competitive, the report recommends that lawmakers continue to fund tourism promotion and keep taxes low, as the state’s lack of an income tax is one of the key economic drivers of the state.
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