Florida’s tourism industry has seen steady growth in the number of visitors to the state in recent years and, based on the numbers released for the first quarter of this year, it doesn’t look like that trend is slowing down.
Numbers released Tuesday morning by Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing agency, show that 33.2 million people visited the Sunshine State in the first three months of this year, the best quarter ever for tourism in Florida history.
“I am proud to announce that Florida set an all-time record by welcoming over 33 million visitors to our state during the first quarter of 2018,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a written statement. “This historic tourism number represents a 7.4 percent increase over last year and demonstrates the momentum that our state has built. Since December 2010, Florida has created more than 1.5 million jobs, and a large part of this growth is because of the incredible success of our state’s tourism industry.”
Most of those visitors — 29.1 million — were domestic travelers. That’s an increase of 8.5 percent over the first quarter of last year. Another 1.4 were Canadians, marking a 2.5 percent increase in visitors from up north.
“This record setting quarter of 33.2 million visitors to our state, the largest quarter in our state’s history, shows that Visit Florida is marketing our state like never before,” said Ken Lawson, president and CEO of Visit Florida. “We will continue developing more innovative and cutting-edge marketing programs to build on this success across the country and across the world. I am very proud of our team’s efforts as we continue to market Florida as the number one global destination.”
The strong first quarter numbers for 2018 follow another record breaking year in 2017 in which Florida played host to 116.5 million people, despite the devastating impact that Hurricane Irma had on Florida when it struck the state in September.