TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (August 16, 2012) – According to preliminary estimates* released today by VISIT FLORIDA - the state’s official tourism marketing corporation – 22.1 million visitors came to Florida in the second quarter of 2012 (April-June), an increase of 1.3 percent over the same period in 2011. Direct travel-related employment in Florida also rose 1.1 percent to 1,041,900, adding 11,300 jobs since this time one year ago and representing the largest employment total since first quarter 2008.
“It’s encouraging to see continued growth in the state’s top industry,” said Governor Rick Scott. “With more growth comes more jobs, and as a leading driver of our rebounding economy, VISIT FLORIDA and the entire Florida tourism industry are poised to make the Sunshine State the No. 1 travel destination in the world.”
Tourism and recreation taxable sales for Florida from January through May 2012 (last reported month) were $31.5 billion, representing a year-over-year increase of 8.8 percent over the same period in 2011. The average daily room rate rose 3.6 percent and the occupancy rate for Florida hotels increased 2.0 percentage points in Q2 2012 compared to Q2 2011.
“These are very positive indicators for Florida tourism and the state as a whole,” said Glenn Hastings, Chairman of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors and Executive Director of the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council. “Increased visitation and spending by travelers to the state have fueled 27 straight months of job growth. More than one million Floridians are now employed in the tourism industry – a number we are proud to see steadily increasing as Florida is on pace for another record year.”
An estimated 18.8 million domestic visitors came to Florida during the second quarter of 2012, representing a 0.3 percent increase from the same period in 2011. Florida experienced a 10 percent increase in overseas visitors with 2.4 million in Q2 2012 compared to Q2 2011.
“In an increasingly competitive domestic and international marketplace, it has proven to be vital for the Florida tourism industry to work together to keep the Sunshine State top of mind with our potential visitors,” said Chris Thompson, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. “The record growth we’ve seen is directly attributable to the commitment of our hospitality industry employees, the strength of Florida’s tourism product, and the creative and strategic marketing efforts being implemented by VISIT FLORIDA and our partners statewide.”
*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.