The number of travelers who visited Florida during the first quarter was up nearly 3 percent, a welcome boost to a tourism industry emerging from the Great Recession and now worried about the impact of the Gulf oil spill.
Visit Florida, the state’s tourism promotion agency, said 22.7 million travelers visited the Sunshine State in the first three months of the year, up 2.7 percent from a year ago.
On a percentage basis, the big drivers of the increase from a year ago were overseas travelers and Canadians, with an 11.3 percent and 10.4 percent increase, respectively.
Visits by people from within the United States were up 1.6 percent and represented the lion’s share — nearly 87 percent — of the total number of travelers.
A recent report from the Visit Florida Data showed that the total number of people boarding commercial airplanes to Florida rose 1.9 percent at the state’s largest airports and that hotel occupancy was up 3.1 percent from a year ago.
Officials with the state tourism agency were particularly happy with the growth among international visitors.
“Visit Florida challenged ourselves this time last year to grow Florida’s share of global travelers, and we’ve done it,” said Chris Thompson, the agency’s president and chief executive.
The agency launched a new marketing campaign — “Your Florida Side Is Calling” — in February that used “vibrant imagery” of Florida scenery. It included advertising in print, broadcast, radio and on the Web, as well as online and mobile sweepstakes.
Foreign buyers have been a big part of real estate sales in south Florida. Increased tourism can only boost real estate sales in Parkland, Coral Springs, Coconut Creek, Boca Raton and surrounding areas. Many northeastern buyers have always been a big part of the home buyer population in Parkland, Coral Springs etc . . . but more and more foreign buyers have taken an interest in Parkland.
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