Despite a summer of algae and red tide, and a devastating hurricane in the Florida Panhandle, Florida once again saw record tourism through the third quarter of 2018.
According to new data released by Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing arm, from July through September, Florida saw 30.7 million tourists, a record during that span. That adds up to a total of 95.8 million for the year, also a high for this point in the year.
The third quarter tourism figures were up 10.1 percent over 2017, and the year to date totals up 6.7 percent over the year before.
Gov. Rick Scott, who will be moving to Washington in January as the current Senator-elect, touted the figures in an announcement Monday.
“Since December 2010, Florida has welcomed a record number of travelers for 27 quarters and had seven consecutive years of record visitation and visitor spending. Today’s announcement shows that 2018 is shaping up to be the most robust year for travel to Florida ever,” Scott said Monday. “I will never stop working to make Florida the number one global destination for visitors and job creation.”
Part of the third quarter jump, especially in September, can be attributed to Hurricane Irma in 2017, which saw much of the state in the path of the storm and led to the largest evacuation in the state’s history.
In Collier County, where tourism figures are released monthly, September saw a 35 percent increase in visitors over 2017. Collier saw flat numbers in July and a slight decline in August.
Lee County, where data is released quarterly, reported a 2.4 percent drop over that span, with a 3.4 percent drop in tourism spending, falling to $485 million from $502 million.
Air traffic at the state’s major airports also grew, up by 10.2 percent. Southwest Florida International Airport also saw gains, with total passengers up by about 140,000 during the third quarter. Through October, the airport saw nearly as many passengers as it did in all of 2013 and is on pace to break 9 million passengers for the first time in its history.
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