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Florida's Tourism Is Up, Unemployment Is Down

Tourism has close to $70 billion in economic impact on the state of Florida and in the last two years, the Sunshine State has broken tourism records. Now, the state’s visitors have hit an all-time high for the first quarter of 2013.

“For the month of April Florida’s unemployment rate has dropped to 7.2 percent which puts us once again, below the national average.”

Governor Scott announced April’s unemployment number to thunderous applause Friday in Tampa- an improvement over March’s 7.5 jobless rate. Since the state’s major industry is tourism, it’s not surprising that news of a falling unemployment rate coincided with Visit Florida’s announcement that the first quarter of 2013 was a record breaker. During the first three months of this year 26-million people visited the Sunshine State.  Will Seccombe, is President and CEO of Visit Florida, the public/private company that promotes Florida tourism.

“I guess the single biggest contributing factor is that we have the best tourism product in the world, without much doubt and we happen to have as a state the home of American Golf, 825 miles of the most beautiful beaches, the theme park capital of the world and the list of assets can go on and on and on,” Seccombe said.

Eighty percent of the 26 million visitors to Florida came from within the U.S., but the state still saw growth in international tourism as well and Seccombe contends the driving force behind those out of country visitors may be surprising.

“The lion share of our visitors are still domestic but 2.6 million almost 2.7 million visitors came from the 181 countries around the globe and nearly one and a half million Canadians visited in that three months which was a significant bump,” Seccombe said.

There are now more than a million tourism and hospitality workers in Florida, and for every 85 visitors the state creates one new job in that sector. That would mean that in the first quarter of 2013 alone, the state created more than 30,000 jobs as a result of tourism. Seccombe credits the growing number of visitors and jobs to Visit Florida’s marketing campaigns.

“Certainly the Visit Florida marketing initiatives have had a tremendous amount of impact. We know that 38.8 percent of all visitors to the Sunshine State were significantly influenced by one or more Visit Florida marketing programs and that’s really just a huge number when you think of the size and scale of the impact of Visit Florida’s initiatives,” Seccombe pointed out.

Visit Florida has also revised its 2012 tourism numbers and now says more than 90 million people visited the Sunshine State last year. As more data trickles in, last quarter’s numbers may adjust, but either way it seems the state of Florida continues to be a hot destination for vacationers around the world and that means more jobs for Floridians.