Florida tourism sees record numbers in first quarter

by | May 19, 2022


Over 36 million people visited the Sunshine State during the first quarter of 2022, exceeding pre-COVID metrics and representing a 39 percent increase from the same period in 2021.

Florida has been a destination state for travelers coming out of COVID-19 restrictions, welcoming nearly 120 million domestic tourists in 2021, the highest level of domestic visitation in Florida’s history. The increased tourism brought in local economy boosts, marking all-time high revenues for hotels and property rentals.

Now, Florida seems set to shatter last year’s record, if the first quarter is any indication.

Last week, SeaWorld, which operates not only SeaWorld Orlando but also Busch Gardens in Tampa, reported increased attendance so far in 2022 compared to pre-pandemic levels, despite the fact that international travel to its U.S. locations remains suppressed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the company also noted its main attractions in other states like California and Virginia were severely hampered by COVID-19 restrictions. Despite those challenges, SeaWorld said attendance was 1.9% higher than 2019, the last full year before the pandemic began.

​​Disney’s Parks, Experience and Products division generated a higher-than-expected total revenue of $6.7 billion in the second financial quarter of 2022, more than double that of the same period last year, per the company’s earnings report.

Revenue is 16 percent higher than the $4.2 billion that was reported in the fiscal second quarter of 2019, showing a marked improvement from even pre-pandemic metrics. Operating income additionally rose 32 percent.

Park visitation is up compared to 2021, though most are from domestic points of origin. The number of international visitors still has not fully returned to pre-pandemic levels as various nations still have in place forms of pandemic control regulations that prevent travel to certain countries.

Disney officials, however, said they are starting to see the return of those visitors.

“There were many days in the quarter, where we saw demand exceed 2019 levels,” Disney CFO Christine McCarthy said in an earnings call.

The travel insurance company Allianz reported that Orlando remains the top domestic summer travel destination in America, edging out Seattle, Washington, a pair of Hawaiian Island destinations, New York City, L.A., Boston, and others, according to an analysis of 2022 flight itineraries for summer travel months.

Other Florida destinations are also reporting record surges in attendance. The Space Coast, for example, reported it’s “best ever” month of tourist tax collections in March, and with more tourists likely to hit Space Coast beaches and trying to catch one of Florida’s rapidly growing number of rocket launches this year, those numbers are likely to surge even higher over the summer.

Florida’s hotels as a whole reported their highest total revenues, collectively amassing over $17.3 billion dollars, while Florida’s airports accommodated an 80 percent increase in passengers.

1 Comment

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