2012 a record year for Florida tourism

Orlando SentinelFebruary 19, 2013 

It was a banner year for Florida tourism in 2012, as an additional 2 million people enjoyed the Sunshine State, setting the tourism industry up for its second consecutive record year.

An estimated 89.3 million people came to Florida in 2012, up 2.3 percent compared with a year earlier, according to preliminary estimates released Monday by Visit Florida, the state's tourism marketing agency. That beat out the previous record -- 87.3 million -- set in 2011.

The state saw particularly large gains in overseas visitors, as well as Canadians. Approximately 10.2 million overseas visitors came to Florida last year, which was an increase of 9 percent compared with a year earlier. About 3.6 million Canadians visited the state, an increase of 7.3 percent from the prior year.

"Surpassing the 10 million overseas visitor mark for the first time ever is a significant milestone for Florida's tourism industry," said Glenn Hastings, Visit Flor

ida's chairman and executive director of the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council. "With over 10 percent of all Canadians traveling to Florida last year, we are exceedingly grateful for the loyalty of our friends and family to the North."

The added tourists resulted in record jobs as well. Visit Florida said direct travel-related jobs in the state grew to 1,030,600.

Gov. Rick Scott praised the industry's record year Monday. His administration has pledged to increase Visit Florida's public funding to $75 million next year, which he said will "continue to support even more economic growth."

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