MANATEE -- It's no surprise to anyone who travelled on Florida roads or tried to book a hotel this year.
Tourism to Florida was hot for the first three months of the year.
The state just released its tourism numbers for the first quarter of 2015 and called it a record-breaking season.
Manatee County tourism numbers released last month showed a 5.2 percent increase in lodging occupancy during the first quarter of the year. The number of Bradenton-area visitors increased by 11.6 percent from 190,300 in the first quarter of 2014 to 212,300 in the same time period this year.
Hotel prices were higher this season and overall tourism spending increased 16.7 percent to $369.081 million from $316.218 million. Room rates, which averaged to a high of $209 per night in March, were up more than 9 percent in the first quarter.
According to the state's tourism agency, Florida saw 28.4 million visitors, an increase of 6.2 percent over the same period in 2014. The previous high for a quarter for tourism was 26.7 million visitors during the same period last year.
All those tourists mean more money in the state's coffers. In January and February 2015 -- the most recent reported months -- the state saw a 10 percent increase in tourism-related tax revenues as compared to the same period in 2014. For quarter one of 2015, the average daily room rate rose 7.6 percent and the occupancy rate for Florida hotels increased 3.7 percent compared to quarter one of 2014.
The state estimates the average number of direct travel-related jobs in the first quarter of 2015 was also a record high, with 1,186,900 Floridians employed in the tourism industry -- up 4.8 percent from the same period in 2014.
"I am proud to announce that the Sunshine State continued our record breaking success and welcomed the most visitors of any quarter in Florida's history," said Gov. Rick Scott in a press release. "We are excited to start 2015 off with our biggest quarter ever, which puts us on pace to exceed our goal of 100 million visitors to Florida this year."
The state estimates 2.9 million tourists traveled to Florida from overseas and 1.7 million Canadians came to Florida in quarter one of 2015, representing 7.1 percent and 1.2 percent increases over the same time last year.
"These records also emphasize the power of tourism as a way to sustain Florida's economic growth," said Andrew Hertz, who chairs the Visit Florida board of directors.
"With all indicators continuing to climb, Florida tourism has strong momentum," said Will Seccombe, President and CEO of Visit Florida. "In addition to the record visitation, our market share is outpacing the rest of the nation, putting us well on our way to making Florida the number one travel destination in the world."