~ Record High for Travel-Related Jobs and Fifth Consecutive Record Year for Tourism ~

ORLANDO, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida set another record in tourism by welcoming 105 million visitors in 2015, according to VISIT FLORIDA. This is the fifth consecutive record year for visitation to Florida, exceeding the previous high of 98.5 million in 2014 by 6.6 percent. The average number of direct travel-related jobs in 2015 was also a record high, with 1,199,200 Floridians employed in the tourism industry – up 53,400 or 4.7 percent over the same period last year. Governor Scott made the announcement at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

Governor Scott said, “I am proud to announce that Florida has surpassed our tourism goal and welcomed an historic 105 million visitors to our state in 2015. The number of travel-related jobs also reached a record high, with 1.2 million Floridians employed in the tourism industry. Tourism plays an important role in supporting our economy, and we will continue to make strategic investments in the tourism industry to keep Florida on track to becoming first for jobs. 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.”

VISIT FLORIDA estimates that a record 89.8 million domestic visitors traveled to Florida in 2015, reflecting an 8.0 percent increase over 2014.  Estimates also show that 11.2 million overseas visitors and 4.0 million Canadians came to the Sunshine State last year.  Total enplanements at 18 Florida airports during 2015 increased 8.2 percent over the previous year, representing a record 6.1 million more enplaned passengers than in 2014.

Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA, said, “Five years of record-setting visitation does not happen by accident. It’s the direct result of a global marketing strategy focused on maximizing the economic impact of Florida tourism. Today’s announcement shows tourism marketing works and we have Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature to thank for their unparalleled leadership and support that has the Sunshine State on track to become the No. 1 travel destination in the world.”

Bob Chapek, chairman, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, 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 percent increase over the same period in 2014. For 2015, the average daily room rate (ADR) rose 5.9 percent and the number of rooms sold grew by 4.5 percent compared to 2014. Florida’s average occupancy rate for 2015 was 72.0 percent, an increase of 3.2 percent over 2014. This represents a record year for the statewide calendar year occupancy rate, exceeding the previous high of 69.8 percent 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 $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 percent over the same period in 2014. VISIT FLORIDA also reports that an estimated 2.9 million overseas visitors and 671,000 Canadians traveled to Florida in the fourth quarter of 2015.

To view additional Florida visitor data, go the Research page on VISIT FLORIDA’s media website.

*Preliminary estimates are issued 45 days after the end of each calendar quarter. Final estimates are released when final data are received for all estimates in the report.

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