Florida became the first state to welcome more than 100 million out-of-state and international tourists.
Gov. Rick Scott said more than 105 million people came to the Sunshine State in 2015. The record-breaking number was announced Thursday morning at Epcot.
“We have a great tourism industry all across our state,” said Scott.
State and tourism officials said it took time to crack the 100 million mark, a goal set by Scott several years ago.
Florida missed the mark in 2014 by recording nearly 99 million tourists that year. Now that the state has comfortably surpassed its goal, Scott set a new goal of 115 million visitors. Following the media event to announce Florida’s 2015 tourism numbers, Governor Rick Scott and Will Seccombe, President and CEO of Visit Florida, discuss tourism, job growth, and new goals.
“The momentum is extraordinary,” he said. “And one of the most important things we have is strengths in markets like the U.K. and Latin America. We have growth in overseas visitors.”
Orlando’s streak as the most-visited destination continues!
The Orlando area welcomed 66.1 million people in 2015, a 5.5 percent increase.
Between January and June, Florida recorded 54.1 million tourists.
About 25.8 million visitors came to Florida during the second quarter of 2015, an increase of 5.5 percent over 2014’s second quarter.
New attractions and an ever-changing tourist landscape in Florida is being credited for the increased number of visitors.
Chapek took a moment to describe the lenghty list of changes and updates coming to Disney’s parks in Orlando, including lands for Star Wars, Toy Story and Avatar.
Seccombe said Orlando’s success is critical for the state’s overall success.
“Orlando is the most visited destination in the United States. It’s the most visited city,” he said. “And certainly the home of the theme park capital of the world, right? No place else on earth can compare to that.”
In 2014, Orlando recorded 62 million visitors, which includes in-state, out-of-state and international visitors. Even though the two tourism agencies track tourists differently, Seccombe said Orlando accounts for the “lion’s share” of Florida’s traffic.
“This new milestone and rapid growth over the past two decades is a result of having a tourism industry and community partners that are focused on growth and investment, dedication to the needs of our visitors and global marketing and sales efforts of our Visit Orlando team and member companies,” said George Aguel, president and CEO of Visit Orlando, in a prepared statement.
Hotels also did well, with 33 million sold room nights, which generated more than $230 million in tourist development taxes for Orange County.
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