Florida Tourism Statistics for 2021
By James | Last updated August 23, 2023
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Florida Tourism Statistics for 2021 and early figures for 2022 show that visitor numbers have nearly recovered to their pre-pandemic 2019 numbers despite a very slow recovery from international visitors, especially from Canada.
According to statistics from VISIT FLORIDA Research, record numbers of visitors came to Florida for nine consecutive years in a row between 2011 and 2019, crashed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the various global lockdowns and then started to recover in 2021.
*In 2009, VISIT FLORIDA changed its Florida visitor study estimation methodology; therefore, estimates made prior to that year are not directly comparable. In 2022 they further refined their estimating for Canadian and other overseas visitors
Florida Tourism Statistics in 2021 and 2022
The latest data from VISIT FLORIDA Research has shown that visitor numbers to Florida in 2021 and the first three quarters of 2022 are recovering back towards their pre-pandemic 2019 figures despite a slow recovery from international visitors. Many international markets were prohibited from entry into the USA until November 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the USA.
In fact, Columbia which was not subject to any travel bans with 0.71 million visitors came out on top for all international visitors, beating Canada with just 0.58 million (down from over 4 million in 2019).
Domestic visitor numbers surged with over 117 million (a new record) up 55% on 2020 whilst total visitor numbers increased to 122 million.
Top out-of-state domestic US visitors were from Georgia 9.5%, New York 9.3% and Alabama 6.4%.
The international breakdown by country showed the only gains were from South American countries that were not subject to travel bans (2020 figures in brackets):
- Canada 0.58 million (1.36 million)
- United Kingdom 0.14 million (0.18 million)
- Brazil 0.13 million (0.29 million)
- Columbia 0.71 million (0.17 million)
- Argentina 0.23 million (0.15 million)
Preliminary figures for the first three quarters of 2022 are showing further improvements:
- In quarter 1 of 2022, total visitor numbers were up 38.3% on the same period in 2021
- In Quarter 2 the figures were up 5.6% on 2021 and actually 4.5% up on 2019
- In Quarter 3 total visitor numbers were up 15.3% on 2021
The last two quarters of 2021 also showed an increase on the same quarters in 2019.
Barring further problems, 2022 could well set a new record and put Florida back on top again.
The final 2022 figures are expected in May/June 2023.
How Many Tourists Visit Florida Each Year?
Florida’s great climate makes it a year-round destination for both vacationers and business and leisure conventions. It is also a great draw for college students on spring break and snowbirds during the cold winter months in the North Eastern seaboard.
Over the last 10 years, visitor numbers have for the most part continued to grow.
In 2013 an estimated 94.7 million tourists visited Florida in total, up 3.6% on 2012 and then in 2014 that number grew to 97.35 million, a 2.8% increase on 2013.
In 2015 despite a small fall in international visitors, overall growth was around 6.5% topping the 100 million mark and reaching a record near 105 million visitors. A further 5.9% increase in 2016 saw numbers reach nearly 113 million.
Though international numbers continued to fall, especially from South America, overall 2017 and then 2018 and 2019 were record-breaking years with over 131 million visitors in 2019, despite the impact of hurricanes like Irma and the red tide outbreaks.
Of the major international countries, Canada continued to show growth and Brazil had started to climb again.
These figures demonstrated that for the ninth year running, Florida was still the “Number One” US attraction for holidaymakers with year-round appeal and that it had bounced back following the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
In 2019, domestic visitors still made up the lion’s share at over 116 million, a 3.7% increase, with Canada in second place and the United Kingdom in third place. In 2020, there was a 29.7% drop in domestic visitor numbers, a 64.5% drop for Canada and a 70.4% drop for international.
The biggest change in the last couple of years is the drop in visitor numbers from overseas, particularly in South America, and specifically from Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela. This was partly due to economic and political turmoil coupled with a poor economy and not being part of the US Visa Waiver Program.
For most of 2020 and 2021, the biggest factor was when the global COVID-19 pandemic struck the USA and it effectively went into lockdown, though this varied by state.
Orlando Visitor Numbers in 2021
With its multiple conference facilities and theme parks, Orlando hosts the largest number of visitors to Florida each year resulting in tourism being the largest private employer in the Orlando area.
In recent years theme parks have seen larger numbers of spring breakers wishing to spend time in the theme parks rather than the beach resorts. It is estimated that Walt Disney World receives over 50 million visitors each year, the most visited vacation resort in the world.
Visit Orlando produces annual visitor statistics and they estimated there were 59.3 million visitors to Orlando in 2021 which is a big increase on 2020 with 35.3 million but well down on the record over 75 million in both 2019 and 2018.
The figure of 59.3 million breaks down into 49.7 million domestic leisure visitors, 7.5 million domestic business visitors and about 2.1 million overseas visitors.
The Orange County Convention Center saw nearly 1 million visitors with over 40 million transiting through Orlando International Airport (MCO).
Visitors to Orlando bring in over $4bn in state and local taxes from hotels and businesses.
However, in 2020, that figure crashed to just 35.3 million visitors. International travel was down by 75%, not helped by the travel ban into the USA from so many countries.
Before the pandemic struck, in 2019 Orlando witnessed record-breaking numbers with 75.8 million visitors overall, 69.3 million domestic and 6.5 million overseas making it the most visited destination in the USA, beating New York.
Orlando International Airport maintained its position as the busiest airport in Florida, with 50.1 million travellers to the airport, a 6.7% increase on 2018.
Miami Visitor Numbers in 2021
Though Miami lacks theme parks it still has a lot to offer with great beaches, casinos, cruises to the Caribbean and beyond, culture and the lure of the Florida Keys.
The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau publish annual visitor numbers to Miami. In 2021, Miami played host to some 24.2 million visitors matching the pre-pandemic numbers of 2019.
Domestic visitors made up 8.7 million of the overnight guests and 3.4 million of the day trippers plus about 3.5 million Florida residents overnight and the same number of day trippers.
There were around 5.1 million international visitors, the largest group were from Columbia with 0.50 million.
Like Orlando and Florida as a whole, Miami was also hit badly by the COVID-19 pandemic particularly in 2020 with only 11.6 million visitors, 7.9 million overnight and 3.7 day trippers. This was 52% down on 2019.
In 2019, there were estimated to be a record 24.2 million visitors, 16.3 million overnight and 7.9 million day trippers.
In 2018, the figures were 23.3 million, 16.5 million overnight and 6.8 million day trippers.
Below you will find historical figures for Florida for the last couple of years.
Florida Tourism Statistics in 2020
VISIT FLORIDA Research figures for 2020 showed a significant decline compared to 2019, especially in the second, third and fourth quarters.
Overall, quarter 1 was down by 14.5%, quarter 2 by a massive 66.6% and quarter 3 by 31.4%. Quarter 4 figures showed a drop of 31.9%.
Total visitor numbers to Florida in 2020 were just over 79 million of which over 75 million were from the United States.
The international breakdown by country figures showed large losses (2019 figures in brackets):
- Canada 1.36 million (4.09 million)
- United Kingdom 0.18 million (1.33 million)
- Brazil 0.29 million (1.30 million)
- Columbia 0.17 million (0.55 million)
- Argentina 0.15 million (0.56 million)
With the closing of the borders to many countries, there was around a 75% decrease in overseas visitors whereas domestic USA visitor numbers were only down by around 35%.
One of President Donald Trump’s last actions before he left office on January 20, 2021, was to rescind the overseas travel ban that came into effect in early 2020 but before it was due to take effect, new President, Joe Biden, reintroduced it and actually added another country (South Africa) to the list.
So the question “Is Florida open to visitors?” was a moot point as anyone who had been in the following countries in the last 14 days was still banned from entering the United States:
- European Schengen area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City)
- United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)
- Republic of Ireland
- South Africa
These bans were finally lifted in November 2021.
Florida Tourism Statistics in 2019
Total visitor numbers to Florida in 2019 were over 131 million of which over 116 million were domestic travellers from the United States. This represented a 3.8% increase on 2018.
Looking at the 2019 international numbers (2018 figures in brackets):
- Canada 4.09 million (3.55 million)
- United Kingdom 1.33 million (1.50 million)
- Brazil 1.30 million (1.22 million)
- Columbia 0.55 million (0.60 million)
- Argentina 0.56 million (0.65 million)
Overseas tourists showed a 0.1% increase compared to 2018.
In prior years, the United Kingdom (UK) was always top of the international tourist list behind Canada but in 2011 the UK at 1.3 million was knocked off the second spot by Brazil with 1.5 million visitors. Brazil has now slipped back to third place behind the UK.
Comparing these figures from as far back as 2010, the biggest gains in percentage terms came from emerging markets like Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil reflecting the impact of the economic downturn in Western Europe.
Florida Tourism Statistics In Previous Years
The breakdown for 2009 was an estimated 71.2 million domestic (US) visitors plus a further 2.6 million from Canada.
Visitors from the United Kingdom were in third spot with 1.2 million down 12% on 2008 whereas Brazil was in fourth place with 0.7 million, up 29%. In 2010 Brazil’s visitor numbers topped the 1 million mark.
Tourists spend over $60 billion per annum in Florida bringing in nearly $4 billion in sales tax revenues (a quarter of all sales tax revenues) and creating over 1 million jobs in the tourist industry.
Another interesting statistic is the amount of money spent by foreign tourists and again Brazilians spent far more per person than say visitors from the United Kingdom, in fact, they spent twice as much, taking advantage of low prices and a favourable exchange rate at the time.
To cater for this increase in Brazilian visitors, all the main theme parks started employing Portuguese-speaking workers and launched websites in Portuguese.