by Bethany Blankley
In the first quarter of 2022, 36 million people visited the Sunshine State, a 39.6% percent increase from the same eriod last year, according to VISIT FLORIDA.
It’s the third consecutive quarter that overall visitation to Florida has surpassed pre-pandemic visitation levels.
“Florida’s latest visitation estimates are incredible news for our economy and all Floridians,” Gov. Ron 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.”
Because Florida reopened before other U.S. states and its aggressive marketing of that, Florida has “transcended the challenges of the pandemic to serve as a role model for tourism and hospitality, and a top global travel destination both in 2022 and beyond,” VISIT FLORIDA said.
The majority of visitors, roughly 34.1 million, came from other states during the first three months of the year. They represent an increase of 35.1% from the first quarter of 2021 and 7.1% from the same period in 2019 before the pandemic, the estimates show.
More than 1.3 million people visited Florida from overseas in the first three months of 2022, an increase of nearly 169% from Q1 2021, with the majority coming from Canada. More than 578,000 Canadians visited the state from January through March, an increase of more than 955% from Q1 2021.
“Our Q1 visitation estimates show that 2022 is shaping up to be another amazing year for Florida tourism,” VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO Dana Young said. “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.”
Travel increased significantly by air. Total enplanements at 19 Florida airports increased by 70.1% during Q1 2022 compared to Q1 2021. The most travelers flew to Miami and Orlando. Jacksonville and Melbourne also saw significant increases.
Miami had the largest number of enplaned passengers of 6.2 million, an increase of 112.2%; Orlando International had 5.8 million enplaned passengers, an increase of 66.7%. Ft. Lauderdale had 3.8 million, an increase of 40%; Tampa had 2.7 million, an increase of 69%.
While far fewer people flew into Jacksonville and Melbourne, their airports still reported 99.8% and 99.4% increases, respectively.
Hotel stays also set records, with quarterly demand exceeding pre-pandemic levels for the first time in the first quarter of 2022. Stays increased by 31.4% from Q1 2021. Florida’s average daily rate was up over 38% in the first quarter, with its occupancy rate having increased by nearly 24%.
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Bethany Blankley is a contributor to The Center Square.