An analysis by Visit Florida, the state’s tourism-marketing agency, showed that Florida attracted a record number of tourists during the first three months of 2022. The numbers, which were released this past Friday, surpassed totals reported for similar time periods before the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted the hospitality and leisure industry.
The analysis estimates that 35.98 million people traveled to Florida between the start of January and the end of March. Florida has now recorded four consecutive quarters attracting more than 30 million visitors.
“Our Q1 visitation estimates show that 2022 is shaping up to be another amazing year for Florida tourism,” said Dana Young, VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO. “In addition to breaking more pre-pandemic records domestically, we are seeing an exponential rebound in Orlando as well as our international numbers, which we expect to continue in the months ahead.”
Additional highlights from the visitation estimates include:
- Florida welcomed 1.3 million overseas travelers in Q1 2022, an increase of nearly 169 percent from Q1 2021.
- Overseas visitation to Florida in Q1 2022 was 14 percentage points closer to full recovery than the rest of the United States.
- Canadian visitation to Florida during Q1 2022 accounted for 578,000 visitors, an increase of more than 955 percent from Q1 2021.
- Over 39 percent of visitors traveled to Florida by plane in Q1 2022, marking the highest share for air travel since the onset of the pandemic in 2020.
- Total enplanements in Florida were up over 70 percent in the first quarter of 2022.
- Quarterly hotel demand in Florida exceeded pre-pandemic levels for the first time in Q1 2022. Compared to the same period in 2021, the number of hotel rooms sold grew by 31.4 percent during the first three months of the year. Florida’s average daily rate (ADR) was up over 38 percent, and its occupancy rate increased by nearly 24 percent.
Governor Ron DeSantis gave credit for the increase in tourism to “freedom-first policies.”
“Florida’s latest visitation estimates are incredible news for our economy and all Floridians,” DeSantis said. “Economists originally projected that Florida tourism wouldn’t fully recover until 2024, but quarter after quarter, despite the Biden administration’s utter failure to manage inflation and the nation’s supply chain woes, Florida’s visitation numbers continue to break records and defy conventional wisdom. Florida’s tourism industry begins 2022 with incredible strength, proving that freedom-first policies will always win, especially when combating the inept economic policies coming out of D.C.”
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Steve Stewart is a senior contributor at The Florida Capital Star. Email tips to [email protected]