TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida posts another record year for tourism.
Nearly 90 million people vacationed in the Sunshine State last year, according to a new report from the state's marketing agency Visit Florida. That's up 2 percent from 2011.
Tourism set records across the board: there were more international travelers, more visitors from Canada and more domestic travelers.
For the first time, Florida surpassed the mark of 10 million overseas visitors. The state welcomed travelers from about 175 countries. Those travelers tend to stay longer and spend more cash.
More than three million Canadians soaked up the sun here. That's 10 percent of Canada's entire population.
Florida also set a record for domestic visitors.
Visit Florida President and CEO Will Seccombe believes there's room for even more growth in tourism.
"I don't think 89.3 million visitors that we had in 2012 is a high point for the Florida tourism industry. I think there's a real opportunity for the industry to continue to grow and provide jobs for Floridians and exceptional experiences to travelers around the world."
Florida's tourism industry now employs more than a million Floridians. Seccombe says the industry's workforce grew by 30,000 people last year.
"That million-plus employees is a real competitive advantage for the state of Florida. We've got over a million people that are making their livelihoods, providing exceptional experiences for our guests and I think they are really a huge competitive advantage for the state."
The report finds Florida has been gaining market share since January, 2012. The state's tourism industry has outpaced the rest of the U.S. by 0.3 percent.
"Florida has the number one tourism product in the world from 825 miles of the most beautiful beaches in the world, to the theme park capital, to the home of American golf, fishing capital of the world, seriously the best tourism product in the world," said Seccombe.
On average, Florida hosts 1.6 million visitors every day. That's more people than the population of each of the 12 smallest states in the country.
First Coast News