ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida had another record-setting year for tourism despite natural disasters, a virus outbreak and a tragic attack on an Orlando nightclub.
Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday at the Brevard Zoo that nearly 113 million tourists visited the state last year. This is the sixth year in a row that the numbers have climbed. Nearly 107 million tourists visited in 2015.
"Visitors spent $109 billion and supported a record 1.4 million Florida jobs in 2016 – a testament to the vital importance of tourism to our growing economy," Scott said.
Scott hailed the continued growth during a time when the agency that promotes tourism is coming under fire. House Republicans are backing a proposal to shut down Visit Florida amid questionable contracts, such as one that paid rap star Pitbull $1 million to promote the state.
Scott lambasted the effort to shut down the agency.
"I don’t understand how anyone can look at Florida’s booming tourism industry, and the more than 1.4 million jobs it supports, and vote to kill it," Scott said. "The legislation the Florida House is pushing puts more than 1.4 million jobs at risk and we cannot let that happen."
The governor in a statement noted that Florida still attracted record numbers despite the Zika virus outbreak, two hurricanes and the attack at the Pulse Nightclub that left 49 dead.
"In the face of adversity, we continued in our mission to promote our great state and thanks to the hard work of Visit Florida, we continue to see record visitors to Florida,” Scott said.