by Andrew Powell
With the exception of a dip during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Florida’s tourism industry has continued to grow since 2019 and predictions are that the good times will continue to roll for the Sunshine State.
A report from Visit Florida, showed that the Sunshine State had approximately 33.2 million visitors in total during the fourth quarter of 2022. This is 6% higher than the same time period in 2021, and 7.8% higher than October 2019 through December 2019.
According to a report from the American Hotel & Lodging Association — America’s largest hotel association and representative of over 30,000 members — Florida is projected to have the second highest gross increase in hotel-generated state and local tax revenue from 2019 to 2023 out of 10 other states.
In 2019, Florida generated $3.25 billion in hotel state and local tax revenue and in 2023, Florida is projected to be pulling in approximately 23.5% more in 2023, around $4.02 billion.
This equates to $765.8 million in additional revenues since before the COVID-19 pandemic began, showing that tourism numbers have not only recovered from the lockdowns, but have exceeded pre-2020 figures.
In comparison, pre-pandemic New York had hotel tax revenues of $3.79 billion in 2019. In 2023 the Empire State is only projected to have a 7.6% increase in revenue or an additional $287 million.
The vast majority of those who visit Florida, are domestic visitors (90%). International visitors make up around 6% and Canadians account for around 3% of visitors, according to the Visit Florida report.
A good portion of those domestic travelers in 2022 also traveled to Florida by car, making up 84.2 million in-person visits for the entire year. According to the report, domestic air travelers accounted for 43.5 million in-person visitors, while air and non-air travelers from Canada increased by 514.1%.
Overseas visitors in 2022 increased by 35.5% from the previous fourth quarter, however, it was still down by 21.7% since before the pandemic. The United States had COVID-19 vaccine requirements for overseas travelers to enter the country, which was recently lifted, and this was likely a contributing factor.
According to the report data, Miami and Orlando were the top two most popular destinations for air travelers, with most domestic air travelers heading to Orlando International.
Overall, Orlando closely took the lead over Miami with 6,550,028 enplanements, while Miami captured 6,304,327 of the total enplanements for the 2022 fourth quarter.
The Visit Florida report further stated that hotel occupancy fell by 0.4% from 2021 to 2022 but was still around 21% higher than the end of 2020.
Hotel room stays sold in 2022, peaked at 12.2 million in March, while the rest of the year remained around 10 million per month.
Comparing these figures with the pandemic year, and it shows the damage that lockdowns caused to the economy. In April 2022, there were 11.2 million hotel units sold. In April 2020, that figure was only 2.2 million.
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Andrew Powell is a contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Florida Tourists” by Michael Rivera. CC BY-SA 4.0.