The stats were surprisingly great for Florida and its tourism sector as Florida set a new tourism record despite Hurricane Irma. Florida Governor Rick Scott announced the outstanding numbers in Naples Zoo Tuesday, in mid-March.
According to Gov. Scott, Florida welcomed a total of 116.5 million visitors, a historical record for the state. This is 3.6% more visitors than 2016 which recorded over 112.4 million visitors.
“Because of Visit Florida’s aggressive marketing efforts to make sure families across the world knew that Florida was open to visitors following Hurricane Irma, we are able to celebrate another record-breaking year for tourism,” Scott said in a statement. “This is especially great news for the 1.4 million jobs that rely on our growing tourism industry.”
Of the record number of visitors, 3.5 million were Canadian visitors, and foreign visitors totaled 10.7 million people.
“Florida welcomed a record 116.5 million visitors in 2017, which is great news for our state," says Ken Lawson, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. "Because of the cutting-edge marketing programs at VISIT FLORIDA, particularly following Hurricane Irma, we were able to increase total visitation by 3.6 percent over last year, resulting in billions of dollars in revenue for the state. We are continuing to aggressively market the Sunshine State to the rest of the country and the rest of the world.”
Visit Florida estimates that Florida lost 1.8 million visitors due to the ravage caused by Hurricane Irma, which struck in September. This caused an estimated loss of $1.5 billion in visitor spending. A state report released in mid-March states that airport passenger counts dropped 12% during the time Irma hit.