Another day, another dollar — or in Florida’s case, another $306 million.
That’s how much out-of-state visitors collectively spend in a single day when they vacation in the Sunshine State.
Just as more people are coming to Florida, tourists also are spending more money while they’re here, according to new research from Visit Florida, the state’s public-private tourism marketer.
That number grew to $112 billion in 2016, Visit Florida found. It’s an increase of $4 billion from the year before.
“It is great news that Florida has reached yet another tourism record with a historic $112 billion in visitor spending in 2016,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement. “Florida’s tourism industry helps support more than 1.4 million jobs across our state and is a major driver in our growing economy.”
2016 was also the year Florida attracted more than 100 million visitors for the first time.
Local tourism is booming, too. Tri-county leaders see lodging occupancy rates as a reflection of the growth in out-of-state visitors.
Occupancy in 2017 was 65.8 percent in Sumter, 70.8 percent in Marion and 71.4 percent in Lake, according to STR, a data and analytics specialist that tracks U.S. hotel data.
All three counties experienced greater occupancy compared to 2016 rates, STR stated.
The optimism comes as Sumter leaders continue promoting the county and The Villages as a destination.
A state built on tourism
Without tourism, Florida wouldn’t have more than $88 billion in gross domestic product, according to Visit Florida’s economic impact report.
That figure represents almost 10 percent of the state’s overall GDP.
Florida tourists spent most of their money on lodging at hotels and vacation rentals, an industry that brought about $32 billion in 2016, the report showed. That’s up more than 3 percent from 2015.
Tourists also offset the tax burden for Florida residents, contributing $11.6 billion in state and local tax revenues, the report showed.
Out-of-state visitation directly or indirectly supports more than 1.4 million Florida jobs, according to Visit Florida. The agency considers lodging, dining, entertainment and retail trade as tourism jobs.
Tourism represents more than 17 percent of total employment in Florida and every 78 visitors to the state support one tourism job, the report showed.
Scott credits the marketing efforts of Visit Florida with attracting record tourism and tourist spending.
Keeping that growth in mind, he said he hopes to work with the Florida Legislature to secure $100 million in taxpayer funding for Visit Florida in the 2018-19 fiscal year.