Year to date, passenger traffic at the Southwest Florida International Airport is up 3.7 percent from the same period in 2013. This is merely one indication of the increased influx of visitors into the Sunshine State. The state of Florida and the tourism industry here has a tremendous amount of momentum, according to Visit Florida President and CEO, Will Seccombe. More visitors traveled to Florida in the first three months of 2014 than during any other quarter period in the state's history. According to Visit Florida, 26.7 million tourists entered the state from January through March this year. This was an increase by a half-million over the previous record set last year. In addition, Governor Rick Scott announced recently that 24 million tourists visited Florida during the second quarter of 2014, which is a 3% increase over the same time period in 2013. In these first 6 months of 2014, hotel room rentals increased 10%.
This increase in visitors began three years ago and includes both international and domestic travelers. Visit Florida estimates that 11.7% of our tourists are from overseas, and 4.2% are from Canada alone. In fact, in Naples, FL real estate we can relate to these statistics as a significant number of our clients and real estate buyers are from Canada and Europe.
Governor Rick Scott and the Legislature increased the amount of money spent on Visit Florida advertising this year to $74 million in an effort to boost the state's tourism industry even more. Last year close to 95 million people visited Florida. This year Scott hopes for 100 million.
Tourism creates jobs in all sectors. According to TaxWatch chief economist Jerry Parrish, "If the state increases its tourism spending, private businesses do as well and private investment is great for the state of Florida." As Parrish indicates, the money spent by visitors will not only be beneficial to communities statewide, but it will also go into the state coffers for paying off state debt, will lessen the tax burden for Florida residents, and contribute to infrastructure funding.
- Naples Daily News, 8/19/14
- News-press.com, 8/5/14
- Lee County Port Authority, 8/21/2014