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Florida tourism aims for another record year

11:33 PM, Aug 14, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida tourism set a bunch of records in the second quarter of this year.

More than 23 million visitors vacationed in Florida between April and June.
That's a 2.6 percent increase over the same period last year and an all-time record for the second quarter.
Nearly 50 million people have visited Florida through the first six months, another record, and that's coming off a record year in 2012 with 91 million visitors.

Will Seccombe of Visit Florida says the tourism industry is building on its momentum, posting astounding growth, and seeing tourists spend a record amount of cash.

"A record $1.7 billion spent in the quarter, more than was spent last year and that's obviously a good thing when people from out of state are paying 23 percent of the state sales taxes. More visitors, more spending, more jobs. It all works together."

Seccombe is excited about Florida tourism right now. He says visitors are returning home, talking up the Sunshine State and that word of mouth is generating new tourism business.

Seccombe says the list of new records also includes tourism-related employment.

"We have record employment in the hospitality industry this year -- 1,092,000 Floridians are employed in the hospitality industry -- so it's a pretty direct correlation in terms of increased visitation, increased visitor spending and then the new jobs that are created."

Seccombe says every 85 visitors create a new job in Florida.

The state is on pace to attract about 94 million tourists this year, which would be a new record. But Seccombe, and Visit Florida, are setting their sights even higher.

They are considering what it would take to attract for 100 million visitors in one year.

It's estimated 100 million visitors would create 115,000 new jobs at an average annual salary of $44,000. It would add $5 billion to Florida's household incomes and increase the state's GDP by more than $6 billion.

Sure, it's a lot of numbers but Seccombe says they add up to a stronger economy and greater economic security for Floridians.

Dave Heller

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