MANATEE -- Gov. Rick Scott announced record-breaking tourism numbers for Florida in the first half of 2015.
According to estimates from Visit Florida, 54.1 million visitors came to the Sunshine State between January and June, a 5.8 percent increase over the previous year.
"I am proud to announce the Sunshine State continued our record-breaking success and welcomed the most visitors in Florida's history over the first half of the year," Scott said in the release. "We are excited to mark the first half of 2015 with our biggest second quarter ever, and we look forward to exceeding our goal of 100 million visitors to Florida this year."
In the third quarter of Manatee County's fiscal year, the same time period as the state's second quarter, 5.5 percent more people
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came to Manatee County compared with last year. Occupancy and room rates in Manatee County also followed state trends and increased year-over-year.
According to the release, between April and June the average daily room rate across the state rose 4.7 percent and the occupancy rate for Florida hotels increased 2.9 percent.
"The continued growth of tourism for the second quarter, including a record number of tourism-related jobs, puts Florida on pace for a fifth consecutive record-breaking year," said John Tomlin, chairman of the Visit Florida Board of Directors, in the release. "These records also emphasize the power of tourism as an economic leader and job creator for the state."
Visit Florida estimates 4.2 million people came to Florida from Canada in 2014, and preliminary figures for the first half of 2015 show 2.9 million visitors traveled from Canada.
Janelle O'Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow her on Twitter@jayohday.