A record 97.3 million people visited Florida in 2014, an increase of 3.9 percent over 2013, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced last week, citing new data from VISIT FLORIDA, the state's tourism marketing corporation.
"We are excited to announce that Florida welcomed more than 97 million visitors in 2014, marking the fourth consecutive record year for tourism in the Sunshine State," Scott said in a statement. "Florida's natural beauty, pristine beaches, and exciting attractions continue to bring countless visitors to our state and provide valuable jobs for our families."
Also at a record high in 2014 was travel industry employment: Florida's travel and tourism industry employed over 1.1 million people last year, up 3.6 percent from 2013.
"Our tourism industry is vital to helping Florida become the global destination for jobs, and this year we are proposing in our 'KEEP FLORIDA WORKING' budget an additional $17.5 million so VISIT FLORIDA can market our state and continue our unprecedented growth in visitors," Scott continued.
Florida hotels, in particular, are celebrating VISIT FLORIDA's 2014 data, as Florida's average daily room rate (ADR) rose 5.7 percent from 2013 while the number of rooms sold grew by 5.3 percent. Meanwhile, Florida's average occupancy rate for 2014 was 69.7 percent, an increase of 4.4 percent over 2013 -- a record high, exceeding the previous high of 69.0 percent in 2005.
"Thanks to the visionary leadership of Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida legislature, the Florida tourism industry has grown from 82.3 million visitors in 2010 to 97.3 million in 2014," said Will Seccombe, president and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. "With all indicators up -- taxable sales, ADR, occupancy, and rooms sold -- the industry is firing on all cylinders."