A combination of paradisiacal beaches and an immense variety of entertainment has made Florida the first U.S. state to attract more than 100 million tourists annually.
Gov. Rick Scott let it be known last week that Florida in 2015 set a new record for the fifth straight year by welcoming more than 105 million tourists from other states and nations, topping by 6.6 percent the number in the previous year, which totaled 98.5 million.
As the setting for making his triumphant announcement, Scott chose the iconic dome of the Epcot theme park at Walt Disney World in Orlando, a city that concentrates one of the three pillars of Florida’s touristic strength: the theme parks.
“The main tourist attractions are the same as always: beaches, theme parks and shopping,” Susannah Costello, vice president of Global Brand for Visit Florida, the official destination marketing organization, told MLM.
For Costello, the figures from 2015 “reflect the strength of the state’s tourism industry,” in which all those involved have worked for decades to achieve “sophistication at levels never seen before,” with the result that last year it was the source of jobs for some 1.2 million employees, or 4.7 percent more than the year before.
She said that to calculate the number, they started with visitors who spent at least one night in the state, information then amplified with data from consumer surveys, the National Travel and Tourism Office, credit card companies and even the Canadian government.
Of the 105 million tourists, 89.8 million were U.S. tourists, 8 percent more than in 2014, while among foreign travelers, 4 million came from Canada and 11.2 million from other countries.
“It is time to set our goal even higher, and I look forward to welcoming 115 million visitors to the Sunshine State this year,” the governor said in a press conference.