‘Florida is back:’ Officials hope Visit Florida campaign will spark tourism, once again

New campaign can be seen on TV, billboards and social media sites

Gov. Ron DeSantis talks about tourism during the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday in Daytona Beach. (Local 10 News)

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis and Visit Florida officials announced a new in-state marketing campaign designed to encourage in-state travel by Floridians during a news conference Wednesday in Daytona Beach.

“Our data has determined that people right now, even though many are ready to travel they feel more comfortable traveling closer to home, and right now they’re feeling more comfortable driving,” Dana Young, CEO of Visit Florida said.

The new campaign will be seen on televisions, billboards and social media sites.

“We are convinced that our tourism industry will be better than before,” Young added.

[RELATED: Florida reports fewer than 2,500 new COVID-19 cases]

DeSantis has been advocating for more tourists to visit the Sunshine State.

The governor made the case that tourists could safely take commercial flights to visit Florida, as newly reported coronavirus cases fell below 3,000 Wednesday, down from peak averages of nearly 12,000 cases daily in mid-July.

Speaking with industry executives at an airline travel forum in Fort Lauderdale, DeSantis said he hadn’t heard of any airline passenger catching the virus on a plane.

“When this industry thrives, it provides this economic security for so many people in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.

Airlines and airport executives told DeSantis that the virus was having the biggest impact on international travel to Florida since many countries had implemented travel restrictions and quarantines on people traveling to and from the United States.

[READ NEXT: DeSantis calls theme parks reopening ‘success story,’ flirts with easing capacity restrictions]

DeSantis said 8.8 million people traveled from March to June in Florida, down from 24 million during the same period a year earlier.

“We are down 60%, our tourism industry has just been, to put it bluntly, decimated by this crisis,” Young said. “The good news is that there is no doubt that Florida remains the best place to vacation in the world.”

DeSantis said from March 1 to June 30, when comparing numbers year over year, the number of people visiting Central Florida decreased 67%. In that same period, room demand at local hotels decreased by 75%, according to DeSantis.

“This is really going to be I think an invaluable tool to help show folks that Florida is back,” DeSantis said.