74ºF

Florida sets tourism record in first half of 2017

State sees 60.7 million visitors

photo

TAMPA, Fla. – The number of tourists visiting Florida continues to grow.

Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday that an estimated 60.7 million tourists came to the state during the first six months of the year, the highest number of visitors for any six-month period in the state's history.

The governor's office said that's a 4.1 percent increase over the same time period in 2016.

"This means back-to-back record quarters for our state. Now, with the investments made in Visit Florida during this year’s Special Legislative Session, we can continue to break records and work toward our goal of 120 million visitors this year. Florida’s booming tourism industry supports 1.4 million jobs across the state, and I know that Visit Florida and their many local partners are continuing to focus on breaking more records in order to help create even more opportunities for our families,” Scott said in a statement.

Scott highlighted the new numbers during a visit to the Florida Aquarium.

A breakdown shows that the increase is due primarily to a growing number of visitors coming from other states, but the number of tourists coming from overseas countries and Canada has dipped slightly.

Florida saw 53.2 million domestic visitors, 5.3 million overseas visitors and 2.2 million Canadian visitors so far this year, officials said.

Scott has backed budget increases for Visit Florida, the state's tourism marketing agency. Earlier this year, GOP legislators had threatened to cut funding by two thirds but reached a deal with Scott to keep the agency budget intact.