- A survey conducted by the University of Florida indicates that social media is a significant factor in attracting visitors to Florida, with 40 percent of respondents citing it as influential in their destination decisions.
- Other factors that influenced travel decisions included Florida’s nature, price competitiveness, availability of tourist attractions, and the hospitality of communities and residents.
- Orlando, Miami, and the various small beach towns were identified as the top destinations in Florida by respondents.
- The state recorded a record number of visitors, with 37.9 million tourists in the first three months of 2023.
Florida, renowned for its favorable climate and picturesque beaches, attracted a record number of visitors last year. Shedding light on the underlying reasons for this influx, a recent survey conducted by the University of Florida (UF) indicates that social media plays a significant role in enticing people to the Sunshine State.
The objective of the survey, conducted by Dr. Rachel J. C. Fu, director of the Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute at UF, was to examine the factors influencing individuals’ decision-making process when considering a vacation in Florida. The study encompassed twelve variables, ranging from infrastructure development, culture, and tourist attractions, to technological advancements and price competitiveness.
According to the data, 40 percent of the 1,528 people polled named social media as a key factor in their vacation decisions, while 18 percent were influenced by TV shows and travel-related content. An additional 14 percent acknowledged the impact of travel articles and news.
“These findings give valuable insight for marketers in the tourism industry throughout the state,” Fu said. “They would be wise to focus their efforts on social media to attract consumers to visit Florida.”
Notably, both local visitors and out-of-state travelers expressed that several secondary factors influenced their travel decisions, including the state’s natural beauty, price competitiveness, availability of tourist attractions, and the level of crowdedness.
When respondents were asked to identify their top three destinations in Florida, Orlando, Miami, and various small beach towns emerged as the most frequently mentioned choices.
The state of Florida recorded 37.9 million tourists during the first three months of 2023, making up the largest volume of visitors across a three-month span in state history.
The first quarter of 2023 saw approximately 34.6 million domestic visitors and an additional 1.8 million overseas visitors, representing a 36 percent increase compared to the previous year. Orlando, following a 25 percent increase in visitors in 2022 compared to 2021, emerged as the most-visited location in the United States with a total of 74 million visitors.
Following the surge of tourists, Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation, could see its state funding double from $50 million to $100 million under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposed state budget for the Fiscal Year 2023-24. The allocation was originally proposed after Florida welcomed 97.7 million domestic visitors in 2022, an 11.4 percent increase compared to 2021.
Florida’s cruise industry also reported positive economic activity, with the state claiming the world’s top three cruise homeports – the Port of Miami, Port Canaveral, and Port Everglades – and being home to the largest cruise ships in the world. Florida-based cruise activity’s direct expenditures generated 158,992 jobs, $8.1 billion in income across the state, and more than $9.0 billion in direct revenue for Florida businesses, with 11 million passengers in 2022.
Florida’s visitors contributed $96.5 billion to the state’s economy and supported over 1.6 million jobs. The Office of Economic and Demographic Research reports a return of $3.27 in state tax revenue for every dollar invested in Visit Florida.