Record quarter for tourism highlights Florida’s recovery from COVID pandemic
TALLAHASSEE — Florida tourism in the first half of 2022 was up 20% over the same period last year and was higher than in the first six months of 2019, the last full year of travel before the coronavirus pandemic.
Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing agency, released figures online Monday estimating that Florida welcomed 33.717 million visitors from April 1 to June 30, bringing the total for the first six months of this year to 69.34 million.
The second quarter figure increased by 5.6% compared to the same period in 2021. Tourism in the first quarter was 38.3% higher than the first quarter of 2021.
In case you missed it:
Tourists to the United States account for most visitors to Florida
Travel from the United States accounted for 93% of people visiting Florida in the second quarter and nearly 94% of people visiting Florida in the first six months.
The 35.628 million visitors during the first quarter of this year is an all-time high over three months.
The drop in tourist numbers during the second quarter came as no surprise.
With the lifting of the ban on travel to the United States, SWFL welcomes more international visitors
Brevard County plans to spend a record $9.78 million next year to market its tourism
The Sunshine State long and rich reputation as a mecca for tourism
Covering most of the winter, the first quarter has historically been the busiest tourist time in the state. Additionally, with gas prices above $4 a gallon and inflation at its highest level in four decades, tourism officials expressed concern in June that hotel room rates, which had been pushed up by demand over the past year, were beginning to hamper travel.
“I think we’re starting to see, over the last two weeks in particular, that inflation is starting to catch up with us in most markets,” Jacob Pewitt Yancey, director of Visit Florida Consumer Insight and Analytics, said during a briefing. ‘a Visit the Florida board meeting on June 9th.
“Now, overall room revenue is still up in all markets in the state as rate growth has been more than enough to overcome the declining level of demand,” Pewitt Yancey said.
However, STR, Inc., which provides data to the hospitality industry, said in an Aug. 5 blog post that nationwide numbers were flat in the third quarter.
“While not as high as initially expected, summer demand…has been strong, ranking fourth since 2000 behind 2019, 2018 and 2017 in that order,” STR said in the post. “Summer occupancy so far is 69.5%, compared to 74% in 2019. A year ago, occupancy for the period was 68%.”
Last year, while the state was still emerging from the initial economic damage of the COVID-19 pandemic, 31.935 million tourists visited Florida in the second quarter and 57.703 million in the first half.
The pandemic hit Florida in March 2020, largely shutting down the tourism industry. That year, Florida attracted only 9.7 million tourists from early April to late June and 39.764 million in the first half.
In 2019, when Florida reached a record 131.07 million tourists, it attracted 32.265 million visitors in the second quarter and 67.76 million in the first half.
Florida leads the country in international visitors
Florida has surpassed other states in bringing international travelers back during the pandemic, but it still lags behind 2019 totals.
The state had 3.071 million overseas travelers in the first half of 2022, including 1.748 million in the second quarter. In 2021, Florida totaled 1.5 million overseas travelers in the first half.
An estimated 1.207 million Canadians visited Florida in the first half of 2022, including 594,000 in the second quarter. Only 96,000 Canadians visited Florida in the first half of 2021. For the first half of 2019, 2.294 million Canadians came to Florida.
Florida attracted a total of 4.63 million international travelers in 2021, representing a market share of approximately 45% of foreign travelers to the United States. This easily topped 22% for the second-highest state, New York.
Florida in 2019 had just under 13.9 million international tourists.
In June, the Biden administration lifted the requirement that international travelers must test negative for COVID-19 within a day of boarding flights to the United States. The ban was one of the last remaining government mandates aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus.