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Florida tourism hits record highs, again

TORONTO — Florida Governor Rick Scott has announced that Florida set another record in tourism by welcoming 105 million visitors in 2015, including 4 million Canadians.

This is the fifth consecutive record year for visitation to Florida, exceeding the previous high of 98.5 million in 2014 by 6.6%.

“I am proud to announce that Florida has surpassed our tourism goal and welcomed an historic 105 million visitors to our state in 2015. … With five consecutive record years for tourism, it is time to set our goal even higher, and I look forward to welcoming 115 million visitors to the Sunshine State this year,” said Governor Scott.

Of the 4 million Canadians who travelled to the Sunshine State in 2015, 2.2 million travelled to Florida by air while 1.8 million travelled by non-air means.

VISIT FLORIDA estimates that a total of 11.2 million overseas visitors came to Florida in 2015, plus a record 89.8 million domestic visitors, reflecting an 8% increase over 2014. Total enplanements at 18 Florida airports during 2015 increased 8.2% over the previous year, representing a record 6.1 million more enplaned passengers than in 2014.

Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, who was on hand for the announcement, said, “As home of the most popular theme park in the world, we’re thrilled to contribute to the record number of visitors to Florida – and the jobs and economic opportunities that tourism helps to create.”

Tourism and recreation taxable sales for Florida increased every month year-over-year from January through November 2015 (last reported month), representing an 8.6% increase over the same period in 2014. For 2015, the average daily room rate (ADR) rose 5.9% and the number of rooms sold grew by 4.5% compared to 2014. Florida’s average occupancy rate for 2015 was 72%, an increase of 3.2% over 2014. This represents a record year for the statewide calendar year occupancy rate, exceeding the previous high of 69.8% in 2014.

John Tomlin, Chair of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors, said, “Achieving record visitation for five consecutive years, including reaching 105 million visitors in 2015, is a testament to the strong industry alignment between VISIT FLORIDA and our tourism Partners. Thanks to the visionary support of Governor Scott and the Florida legislature, together we have built a solid foundation that will enable us to reach our goal of generating US$100 billion in visitor spending by 2020.”

For fourth quarter 2015, preliminary estimates show a record 25.2 million people visited the Sunshine State. This represents the largest fourth quarter visitation number Florida has ever seen and reflects an increase of 6.7% over the same period in 2014. VISIT FLORIDA also reports that an estimated 2.9 million overseas visitors and 671,000 Canadians travelled to Florida in the fourth quarter of 2015. Of the Canadians that travelled to the Sunshine State in fourth quarter, 407,000 travelled by air, while 201,000 travelled by non-air means.