VISIT FLORIDA: Domestic travel to Florida shows rebound

Passenger jet airliner plane arriving or departing Tampa International Airport in Florida at sunset or sunrise
Domestic travel has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Travelers to Florida in the second quarter of this year have been counted, and data shows not only a 220% rebound from last year’s lockdown spiral but also a bump from 2019’s numbers, according to VISIT FLORIDA.

With 6% more domestic visitors coming to Florida than came in 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis seized on the count as proof his approach to handling the COVID-19 pandemic has been a success. Florida opened nonessential businesses well in advance of most other states and before meeting the guidelines for COVID-19 recovery that President Donald Trump’s administration had promulgated.

The revitalization of the tourism industry will have a positive impact on every Floridian, DeSantis said.

“Florida continues to serve as an example for the country that when you reject lockdowns and unnecessary mandates, your economy will thrive,” DeSantis said, according to a VISIT FLORIDA news release. “Not only did Florida have more visitors in the second quarter than we did in 2020, but the data shows that domestic visitation has already fully recovered to 2019 levels. I’m grateful for the dedication of thousands of Florida business owners, who demonstrated the highest commitment to their employees and their customers, and I’m proud of VISIT FLORIDA’s hard work to market the Sunshine State.”

DeSantis’ approach to handling the pandemic has become controversial once again as the delta variant of COVID-19 has caused a surge in the number of infections and hospitalizations, breaking records that were set before the vaccine became available.

Still, before this latest surge the state’s tourism marketing arm found 31.7 million travelers to Florida from April through June 2021, representing an increase of more than 220% over the prior year. The lockdown started in mid-March and continued into May of last year.

“Florida tourism’s skyrocketing growth in Q2 2021 is an incredible achievement for our state’s economic recovery and underscores the effectiveness of VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing,” Dana Young, VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO, said in a news release. “… VISIT FLORIDA remains wholly focused on driving even more results for Florida’s tourism economy and showcasing everything our great state has to offer to travelers.”

The results were even more dramatic, when comparing 2021’s second quarter international travel to 2020’s. Preliminary estimates are that 1.1 million overseas visitors came to Florida in the second quarter of 2021 — an increase of 854% from the previous year, according to VISIT FLORIDA. But the number of overseas travelers have not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, the figures show. Less than half as many travelers came from overseas in the second quarter of 2021 as the same period in 2019.

VISIT FLORIDA worked with Allegiant Airlines, American Airlines/American Airline Vacations, and United Airlines on three independent campaigns shown in the Midwest and the Northeast to drive bookings for traveling and room nights, VISIT FLORIDA officials said. Those campaigns positioned Florida as a leading destination for travelers across the U.S and accelerated the recovery of the state’s tourism industry, the news release said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • Anna

    August 21, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    My neighbor’s aunt makes 62 every hour on the internet..ffi she has been without work for eight months but the previous month her revenue was 19022 only working on the laptop 5 hours a day..

    check this ……

  • Kate Adams

    August 24, 2021 at 3:59 pm

    This article is premature – it may have been accurate in May and June – but July/August has seen travel & tourism business tank AGAIN… and future bookings have dropped dramatically. We handle travel arrangements for Florida visitors, business travelers, hotels, meetings & events. Florida residents deserve to know the truth, and you shouldn’t be using old data and creating further confusion. Travelers are cancelling, they are not coming in as they were and they are not planning on it any time soon. Cancellations are continuing to reach further into the fall. Weddings that were re-scheduling, are NOT, conferences that were coming, ARE NOT, and other larger corporate entities are NOT making arrangements for the 4th quarter. So, update your info.. and turn this regurgitation of the political talking points into a factual analysis of our current tourism situation. We look forward to reading your fact checked update.

  • Kate Adams

    August 24, 2021 at 4:08 pm

    POSTED ON AUGUST 23, 2021
    Recently, the difficult decision has been made to postpone the events involved in the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show (scheduled for September 19-20, 2021) to September 2022.

    The safety of you, your colleagues and your loved ones takes precedent at this time. This decision is one that is not taken lightly. Our home is Florida. We recognize the importance of this industry to my home state and see first-hand both the obstacles faced and the strength and perseverance of so many. You are an inspiration to all of us here. We do not take our role in supporting you lightly. While disappointed, I know this is the right thing do to. Posted on 08/23/2021

Comments are closed.


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