Governor DeSantis Announces Florida Visitation Tops Pre-Pandemic Levels

Press release from the Office of Governor Ron DeSantis

Today, Governor DeSantis announced that Florida’s visitation from July to September 2021 exceeded 2019’s visitation over the same period for the first time since 2020. Governor DeSantis made this announcement based on VISIT FLORIDA’s estimates that show Florida welcomed a total of 32.5 million travelers in Q3 2021. This announcement also marks the second consecutive quarter of growth in domestic visitation, with 31.2 million domestic travelers to Florida in Q3, reflecting an increase of nearly 7 percent from 2019. In addition, approximately 1.2 million visitors traveled to Florida from overseas, and 85,000 from Canada, between July and September of 2021, representing a 597 percent increase from 2020 and a 16.1 percent increase from Q2 2021. 

Since launching in August 2020, VISIT FLORIDA’s in-state, drive market, and domestic marketing campaigns have yielded consistent growth for Florida tourism and the state’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. While tourism in other states was completely paused, Florida was the only state marketing outside its borders for seven months, seeing steady growth in visitor volume each quarter. As a result, Florida is driving the recovery of the U.S. travel industry and has cultivated a strategic advantage that will continue to attract visitors in the future. 

“In 2020, the experts thought Florida’s economy would be among the most impacted in the nation because of how important tourism is to our state; instead, we are setting the pace for job creation and visitation in the U.S.,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “We have been able to set these records because in Florida we kept businesses open and made sure Floridians could keep working. In just fifteen months, Florida’s visitation numbers have surpassed past pre-pandemic levels, helping drive revenue, job growth, and economic activity to all 67 counties in our state.” 

“VISIT FLORIDA and its tourism partners around the state continued to deliver outstanding results for Florida tourism in Q3 2021, with total visitation surpassing 2019’s for the first time since the pandemic began,” said Dana Young, VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO. “Though the ever-evolving nature of the pandemic may continue to pose challenges, the steps we have taken as an industry and as a state have put us in the best possible position to overcome anything that comes our way. Looking ahead, VISIT FLORIDA will only be hitting the accelerator as we reenter the global travel arena and the lucrative winter travel season.”   

“Florida’s record-breaking visitation in Q3 is a huge win for our state and has pushed the recovery of Florida’s tourism industry to new heights,” said Danny Gaekwad, Chair, VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors; Owner, MGM Hotels. “Thanks to VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing efforts, Florida regularly outperforms the nation in hotel occupancy, demand, and revenue, and is an undisputed leader in the U.S. travel sector. We are incredibly grateful for Governor DeSantis for paving the way to this success and allowing our tourism community to thrive.” 

“Florida tourism’s performance in Q3 is absolutely incredible, and makes a positive impact on every Panama City Beach family, business, and job,” said Dan Rowe, Immediate Past Chair, VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors; President and CEO, Visit Panama City Beach. “These numbers are a testament to the effectiveness of VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing and Governor DeSantis’ bold leadership during our recovery. We sincerely appreciate everything that they’ve done to help get us here today.” 

“Q3’s visitation numbers are amazing news for our tourism industry and the entire state. Since VISIT FLORIDA reentered the market 15 months ago, Sarasota County tourism has skyrocketed, ranking first among Florida hotel markets in rooms sold growth from March to August according to data from STR,” said Virginia Haley, Member, VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors; President of Visit Sarasota County. “Our Governor’s unwavering commitment to our tourism industry has been crucial for this success, and we are confident that VISIT FLORIDA will continue to drive even more results for our state in the months ahead.” 

The chart below illustrates Florida’s tourism recovery over the past 15 months. 

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