State tourism wing Visit Florida is reporting record tourism numbers for the first half of 2019.
In the first six months of the year, Florida clocked 61.2 million people coming to the state from elsewhere in the U.S. Visit Florida says another 5.2 million people travelled here from overseas, and another 2.4 million from Canada. That represents an overall 5.6 percent increase from the same period of 2018.
Though total numbers are rising, annual growth in overseas visitor numbers has been trending down since the second quarter of 2018. The second quarter of this year saw an estimated 2.568 million overseas tourists — Florida’s lowest number of overseas tourists since the second quarter of 2012, when Visit Florida recorded 2.465 million.
Governor Ron DeSantis is touting the numbers. He says the influx of tourism money keeps taxes low and allows for investment in the environment, transportation and education.
Visit Florida’s President and CEO Dana Young says the agency is looking to go on the offensive when it comes to attracting tourists.
“VISIT FLORIDA will continue to develop cutting edge marketing programs that highlight our state so that we can attract more visitors, create more jobs, and make Florida the world’s number one place to take a vacation,” Young said in a statement.
This past legislative session, the Florida House looked poised to try and pull Visit Florida’s funding. But, an eleventh-hour compromise with the Senate ultimately secured funding for the agency through the summer of 2020.