The state of Florida’s tourism industry took a huge hit amid the COVID-19 pandemic that limited travel and encouraged people around the world to stay at home.
Before 2020 was struck by the pandemic, Florida had increased its number of visitors every year since 2010 with 2019 recording the most at 131.4 million. According to Visit Florida, 2020 saw a 39.3% decrease from 2019 totaling only 79.75 million visitors.
With the development of COVID-19 vaccinations and Governor DeSantis halting CDC regulations, the state of Florida’s tourism industry in the first quarter of 2021 recorded 26.16 million visitors; an improvement compared to quarters two, three, and four of 2020, which recorded 9.92 million, 20.33 million, and 19.09 million visitors, respectively.
The number of visitors traveling to Florida in 2021 should continue rise as mask mandates are relaxed by major theme parks like Disney World, Universal, and SeaWorld which are major tourist draws.
Although the major tourist attractions in Florida are climbing back to pre-pandemic levels, a larger increase in visitor numbers should come when international travel restrictions by other countries are lifted. In 2020, the number of overseas visitors decreased 70.4% from 2019, and Canadian visitors decreased 64.5%, representing 10 million fewer people who traveled to Florida in 2020.
For the time being, Florida lawmakers have approved a Visit Florida budget consisting of $75 million with $25 million coming from federal stimulus money.
If DeSantis approves the budget, starting July 1st, the money would be given to the agency is an attempt to help the state of Florida recover from the pandemic through conducting marketing and promotional activities, as well as services, programs, and functions that are meant to fund Florida’s tourism industry and boost the Florida economy.
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Casey Owens is a writer at The Florida Capital Star. Follow him on Twitter at @cowensreports. Email tips to [email protected]