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Florida Breaking Tourism Record in 2015

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florida-tourismThe Sunshine State welcomed an estimated 79.1 million visitors during the first nine months of 2015, the most of any such period in Florida's history.

The nine-month count was a 5.5 percent increase when compared with the same period in 2014.

The third quarter of this year saw an estimated 25.5 million visitors, an increase of 6.8 percent, according to a report from Visit Florida, the state's tourism promotions agency, released on Thursday.

The average number of direct travel-related jobs in the third quarter also was a record high, at 1,195,400, 5.2 percent more than a year ago.

Gov. Rick Scott has set a goal of drawing more than 100 million tourists to Florida this year, and that now seems within fairly easy reach.

Visit Florida estimated that there were 22.1 million domestic travelers to Florida in the third quarter, an 8.2 percent increase. There were another 3.4 million international visitors.

Preliminary figures for the nine-month period show 67.4 million domestic visitors, 8.3 million overseas visitors and 3.4 million Canadians.

Tourism and recreation taxable sales for Florida increased year-over-year for January through August, which was the last month reported, by 8.2 percent, while the average daily room rate rose 5.1 percent. The occupancy rate for Florida hotels increased 3.6 percent and the demand in rooms sold grew 4.8 percent compared with a year ago.

"The continued growth of tourism for the third quarter, including a record number of tourism-related jobs, puts Florida on pace for a fifth consecutive record breaking year. These records also emphasize the power of tourism as an economic leader and job creator for the state," John Tomlin, Visit Florida's chairman, said in a statement.

Local data has been equally impressive, with Sarasota County collected more than $19.02 million from its 5 percent tax on overnight accommodations during the recently ended fiscal year. That amounts to a 27 percent increase in those revenues from just two years ago. Meanwhile, that same revenue source in Manatee County was $11.74 million, a 30 percent jump from two years ago.

Local Tourism Record - For the first time, too, Sarasota County broke 1 million visitors in paid lodgings. In the July-to-September quarter, the number of visitors to Sarasota County was up 2.3 percent and their spending grew by 3.8 percent.


Herald Tribune November 2015