TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tourism in Florida is on the rise, post-pandemic. The data for the number of visitors the state had from 2019 to 2021 shows a boost in travel, according to publications by Visit Florida.
In 2019, more than 131 million tourists came to the Sunshine State. About 117 million were from the United States, while 9.8 million came from overseas and 4 million came from Canada. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit the globe.
The pandemic travel numbers were down in a big way compared to 2019. For 2020, total visitors to Florida dropped to 79.18 million, a nearly 40% drop, according to the Visit Florida numbers. Domestically, tourism was down more than 35%, while visits from overseas fell over 75% and travelers from Canada to Florida fell almost 69%.
However, the 2021 tourism levels surged upward. While visits from Canada shrank again, compared to 2020, the number of visitors from overseas and domestic travel rose above 50% each.
The total visitors to Florida in 2021 hit 122.02 million, while the domestic travel numbers hit 117.38 million according to Visit Florida, a 55.7% boost. Overseas visitors rose 68.6% to 4.06 million. Most of that travel boost came in the second quarter of 2021, the Visit Florida data shows.
From the domestic tourists, “The top origin states for domestic visitors to Florida in 2021 were Georgia (9.5%), New York (9.3%), and Alabama (6.4%),” according to Visit Florida.
Tourism is one of Florida’s biggest industries, accounting for about 11.6% of general revenue from sales tax in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, according to the Legislative Office of Economic and Demographic Research. According to Visit Florida, the tourism industry “supported over 1.6 billion Florida jobs” and contributed $96.5 billion to the state economy in 2019.
The spending accounted for about $2.86 billion in general revenue thanks to “directly attributable purchases made by tourists,” particularly in the first half of the year.
The research office expects tourism to slow down to a “more normal mix of visitors” in the 2022 to 2023 fiscal year, and to see annual growth rates moderate afterward, declining almost 4% by 2024.
With the 2022 fiscal year still in progress, not all data is available yet for visitors to the state. According to what has been published by Visit Florida, the first half of the year has already seen 69.34 million visitors, a 20.2% increase compared to the first half of 2021.
The majority of those tourists are still from the U.S., making up 65.06 million of the overall total. For domestic travel to Florida, it represents a 16% growth for tourism.