According to statistics from VISIT FLORIDA Research, record numbers of visitors came to Florida for seven consecutive years in a row between 2011 and 2017.
In 2013 there was an estimated 94.7 million visitors 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 continue to fall, especially from South America, overall 2017 was another record breaking year with over 116 million visitors, despite the impact of Hurricane Irma. Of the major international countries, only Canada showed a growth in 2017.
These figures demonstrate that for the seventh year running, Florida is still the “Number One” US attraction for holidaymakers with year round appeal and that is has bounced back following the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
*In 2009, VISIT FLORIDA changed its visitor estimation methodology; therefore, estimates made prior to that year are not directly comparable.
In 2017, domestic visitors still make up the lions share at over 102 million, an 4.5% increase, with Canada in second place and the United Kingdom in third place.
The biggest change in the last couple of years is the drop in visitor numbers from overseas, particularly South America, and in particular from Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela. This is partly due to economic and political turmoil coupled with a poor economy and not being part of the US Visa Waiver Program.
Looking at the 2017 international numbers (2016 figures in brackets):
- Canada 3.48 million (3.34 million)
- United Kingdom 1.44 million (1.59 million)
- Brazil 0.99 million (1.03 million)
- Argentina 0.65 million (0.76 million)
- Columbia 0.53 million (0.54 million)
Overseas visitors showed a 4.3% decrease compared to 2016.
In prior years, the United Kingdom (UK) was always top of the international visitor 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 with 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.
Recent Florida Tourism History
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 in fourth place with 0.7 million was up 29%. In 2010 Brazil 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 are now employing Portuguese speaking workers and have launched web sites in Portuguese.