By Jim Turner, The Information Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — U.S. guests continued to drive Florida’s tourism business at a file tempo, whereas worldwide journey nonetheless struggled to succeed in pre-pandemic ranges, in keeping with newly launched figures for the third quarter of 2022.
The tourism-marketing company Go to Florida estimated Tuesday the state attracted 35.115 million vacationers throughout the third quarter, a 6.9 % enhance from 2021. The estimate was additionally 8 % above the identical interval of 2019, earlier than the pandemic largely shut down the state’s essential tourism business.
The numbers from July 1 by means of Sept. 30 — the fifth consecutive quarter outpacing the corresponding quarter in 2019 — indicated the business has principally moved previous the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Tourism is the primary business in Florida, and it’s the highest contributor to common income of our state. So the well being of our tourism economic system is instantly associated to the well being of our economic system as an entire,” Go to Florida President and CEO Dana Younger informed TravelMole Managing Director Graham McKenzie final week whereas on the World Journey Market London. “Mentioned one other means, if we aren’t doing nicely, the economic system isn’t going to be doing nicely both. And so, the extra folks notice that, that essential connection between tourism and prosperity, the extra they’re more likely to notice how vital the work that we do with tourism advertising and marketing is.”
The estimates didn’t mirror impacts from Hurricane Ian, which crashed into Southwest Florida as a Class 4 system on Sept. 28, days earlier than the top of the quarter. However some resorts have reported layoffs as they attempt to get well from injury, and the hurricane may have an effect on fourth-quarter tourism numbers.
After Ian hit, Go to Florida shortly put collectively a digital and social-media promotional marketing campaign, seeded with about $2.7 million, that targeted on elements of the state left unscathed by Ian.
Younger didn’t focus on the Ian-related efforts with TravelMole however highlighted advertising and marketing past the state’s prime tourism areas.
“Final yr, we noticed a marked enhance within the variety of guests that have been going to our extra rural counties, so actually off the overwhelmed path,” Younger mentioned. “Actually, in a couple of of our counties, we noticed resort occupancy ranges enhance as a lot as 25 % yr over yr.”
The general public-private Go to Florida is backed this yr by $50 million in state cash for advertising and marketing.
Through the first 9 months of 2022, Florida drew 104.375 million guests, up 15.3 % over the primary three quarters of 2021 and 4.1 % larger than on the identical level in 2019, in keeping with the Go to Florida numbers. For all of 2019, the state attracted a file 131.07 million vacationers.
The state drew 97.752 million U.S. guests throughout the first 9 months of 2022, together with 32.645 million within the third quarter. By comparability, the state drew 90.05 million U.S. guests throughout the first 9 months of 2019, together with 29.295 million within the third quarter of that yr.
The state initially targeted on reviving home journey after the preliminary hit from COVID-19 in 2020. Numbers didn’t begin to surpass pre-pandemic ranges till the center of 2021.
In the meantime, Florida drew an estimated 5.002 million abroad vacationers throughout the first three quarters of this yr, down 30 % from the identical interval in 2019. Additionally, Florida drew 1.62 million Canadian guests by means of Sept. 30 this yr, practically 46 % beneath the 2019 complete.
Younger informed TravelMole she didn’t anticipate international inflation or the devalued British pound to additional damage the state’s efforts to draw worldwide guests.
“What we’re seeing is that folks nonetheless wish to escape all of that, and they’re nonetheless planning holidays,” Younger mentioned. “And by and enormous, they’re planning holidays to Florida. So, we’re not seeing an influence from the damaging financial scenario world wide on the folks which are truly planning a visit to Florida.”
Florida received a lift in June when the Biden administration lifted a requirement that worldwide vacationers take a look at damaging for COVID-19 inside a day of boarding flights to america. The ban was one of many final remaining authorities mandates designed to include the unfold of the coronavirus.
However the 1.931 million abroad vacationers within the third quarter was off 22.8 % from 2019. Additionally, the 539,000 Canadians who traveled to Florida throughout this yr’s third quarter was down from 703,000 throughout the identical interval in 2019.