Despite record high temperatures, Florida hosted 79.1 million tourists in the first nine months of 2015, the largest count of visitors in that time than ever before in the state’s history. Gov. Rick Scott has accordingly proposed a $6 million increase for the state’s tourism budget.
The nine-month count saw an increase in Florida tourists by 5.5 percent from the same time period in 2014. Tourism-related jobs have seen a rise as well, up 5.2 percent from last year.
On Monday, Nov. 23, Gov. Scott released his 2016-17 “Florida First” budget of $79.3 billion in which he recommended an $80 million investment in VisitFlorida, the state’s tourism agency.
“Our growing tourism industry employs 1.2 million Floridians and is helping us meet our goal of becoming first for jobs,” Gov. Scott said in a statement released on Nov. 19.
From July to September, 25.5 million tourists came to Florida – an increase of almost 7 percent from the same stretch of time in 2014. The growing tourism industry is nothing new for the Sunshine State, which has experienced five consecutive years of record-breaking tourism.
“Maybe it’s all the baby boomers getting ready to die,” second-year Lily Solomon said.
Sarasota County itself broke a record of more than 1 million visitors in paid lodgings, a reflection of Florida’s occupancy rate rising 3.6 percent. Over the past fiscal year, Sarasota County collected $19.02 million just from the 5 percent tax on overnight stays.
State lawmakers will make a final decision on next year’s budget in January. Meanwhile, Gov. Scott is pushing Florida to bring in a goal of 100 million visitors by the end of the year. With a mid-November count of 79.1 million tourists, the state is not far from its goal.
Information from this article was taken from heraldtribune.com