Almost 138 million visitors came to Florida last year, breaking records
A palm tree is decorated for Christmas on a beach in a tropical climate. Strings of lights glow in the night.

A palm tree is decorated for Christmas on a beach in a tropical
Florida broke tourism records in 2022.

Florida broke tourism records in 2022, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced.

The number of people who visited the state hit 137.6 million for the year, a rise of 13% from 2021 and 5% from a pre-pandemic 2019. The higher figures come even as international tourism hasn’t returned to the same level as pre-pandemic.

DeSantis used the travel figures as an opportunity to tout the state’s response during the pandemic that has killed more than 1 million Americans. Florida’s lack of COVID-19 restrictions is why people flocked to visit in 2022, said the Governor, who many view as targeting a potential run for the White House.

“People continue to make Florida their vacation destination because they know that in the Free State of Florida, they can enjoy all that we have to offer without mandates or restrictions,” DeSantis said in a statement.

“Despite the federal government’s attempts to keep our economy stagnant, Florida’s freedom first approach has created an environment that attracts new visitors, fosters new businesses and drives our economy forward.”

Every year, visitors come to Florida’s theme parks, the beaches, sporting events and big city entertainment.

“We could not be more excited with the incredibly impressive record-breaking visitation seen in 2022. Quarter after quarter, Florida continues to dominate the travel market and our competition, which could not be achieved without the hard work of our local tourism partners,” said VISIT FLORIDA president and CEO Dana Young in a statement.

“At Visit Florida, we are committed to building on this growth to ensure Florida continues to be the No. 1 vacation destination in the world.”

About 38% of visitors flew to Florida which was slightly lower than the 41% who traveled by airplane in 2019.

The tourists packed hotel rooms statewide.

“Hotel room nights sold at Florida hotels increased by nearly 13% in 2022 compared to 2021. Occupancy rose by 9.4% to 70.5%, as demand growth significantly exceeded the expansion of supply,” according to a press release.

International tourism hasn’t fully rebounded but is growing, VISIT FLORIDA’s latest report said.

An estimated 7 million overseas travelers came to Florida in 2022, which is a 73% jump from 2021, but still 28% behind 2019 visitation levels.

VISIT FLORIDA blamed the international tourism’s figures on the federal government for slow Visa wait times and pandemic restrictions.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


  • Elliott Offen

    February 15, 2023 at 8:20 pm

    New York and New Jersey driving up prices. This is a good thing for Ron DeSanctimonious. Maybe they’ll all want to live here one day and then turn the state blue. The right wing culls itself. We saw this with Trump and coronavirus. Dodo Bird Ashli Babbitt was the ultimate symbol of the Trump bowel movement.

  • nail

    February 16, 2023 at 2:41 am

    Gabrielle, please! You’re a newbie so I’ll give you credit for that but come on, his statement! Let”s start making media better! To print this BS is to insult every normal person in FL that does not have gray hair, even under Clariol Toner. Desantis is getting boring, redundant, and slaps every educated person across the face with his rhetoric.
    “Free State of Florida” I mean enough ! He just took over a college with a hostile takeover firing the Board and it’s President and replaced them with his Ball Scratchers and QAnon lunatics, as they all stood before him with their matching brown uniforms and said “we are not woke” for him.
    Then within days he announced that his fake outrage over Disney while he took over the governance of a private corp (still have not seen where Reedy voted his so called corp in or the transference of the bond, which Fitch already said last year, they would not do this because “FL did not have a stable government.” All this while he calls his evil enemies, the Dems, “socialists” while he now controls the means of production..
    “without mandates or restrictions” Was he laughing behind the hand he held to face when he said this? or did he just have a moment like most of his devoted, forget he issued an executive order in Apr 2021 barring businesses from requiring vaccine for port entry, and state laws adopted in Nov 2021 bars vaccine mandates. He also signed orders in May 2021 prohibiting local governments and school districts from mandating masks. We can put this rest since it is Feb 2023 almost 2 yrs after the fact. But then FL had more deaths per 100K than every state but CA where 20K more ppl died, CA which has double the population than FL
    “Despite the federal government’s attempts to keep our economy stagnant, Yep, I remember Nov 2022 President Biden coming to FL with checks in hand after Ian (which DeSantis all but blamed Biden for), and Desantis drooling about those Socialist funds and how many planes he could rent for a additional 48 legals @$68,000 per person. $3,2 million was the final total. FOIA gave up the checks.
    “environment that attracts new visitors, fosters new businesses and drives our economy forward” New visitors to where Disney, where his rhetoric drove 7,000 to lose their jobs?” Fosters new business” has he received the docs for HIS takeover of Disney? Did Putin give him back the $300 million retirement funds, that he gave him as a gift, because he knew netter the the financial advisors told him to withdraw the funds when the war started? How about his attack on woke banking institutions. Since we will never see or hear DeSantis on any FL media I watched his taped invite only (what else would we ever see)presser on Monday and took notes:desantis @ 1:22 has a hard on bitching about wells fargo is no good because they invest in ESG, no more woke checking fl coming soon. Sure enough today a new mandate for the free state.
    “Occupancy rose by 9.4% to 70.5%,” There were 2 hurricanes. Ian were over 35-40K lost their homes or were un-inhabitable in the 3rd Q and 600 homes lost due to Nicole in the 4th Q. I, myself, would not consider 80-100K losing their homes became a boom to tourism FL hotels. I’m sure those in hotels for 2 months are going to be so enthralled that they were considered as tourists.
    It’s not that I don’t like his authoritarian, I did vote for him in 2018, but I did like him better in 2021 when he because a Regeneron salesman instead of a governor, running around the state collecting his pay to play for a vax.
    He didn’t have Victor Orbans telephone number then. For a guy that promotes FL as the bastion of freedom DeSantis sure does take control of a lot of things: Mickey Mouse, a successful coup of a college, demonizing teachers, transporting immigrants , Racism, LGBTQ rights, Bigotry, the highest insurance rates in the country after he gave his biggest donors everything they wanted to the detriment of FL homeowners, who now have very little chance of collecting claims without them losing funds to a lawyer, FL children’s education, firing a elected state prosecutor for saying he was not going to arrest a dr for doing something we never had law for and no case, but the attorney won on principal in court, over 800 books banned by the radical QAnon Karen’s for Liberty, 31 new Proud Boys on our school boards financed by Desantis (have you ever heard of a governor funding a named terrorist organization?) , firing all those school board members he fired because a few more donors needed a job, a new tax of $1 billion in to cover the $688 million for the top 10 income earning businesses for a tax break, banking, canceling AP classes so kids now have to hope that their selected colleges do not want to know why they are Valedictorian and no AP classes and no merit scholarships for them.
    DeSantis picks the low hanging fruit for his culture war nonsense, that my friend in OR never heard of WOKE, and a friend in the UK said what the hell is WOKE!
    If this is not autocracy out of control, what in the world is it? DeSantis is not just a headstrong purported GOP leader, he’s leaning toward the lunacy that had brought down others of his ilk: Mussolini and Hitler.
    All I know is If he steps onto the national stage he’s going to get bloodied and beaten around by real world opposition that will know real world issues. He will never survive with trump will do to him. He will blow, like he always does when asked a real question He won’t survive! Hopefully FL will….

  • Jerry

    February 16, 2023 at 9:40 am

    It may have been a record year, but DeSantis and local governments may find it a short lived victory. Local governments are working to regulate short term rentals, and place “Spring Break Only” restrictions in place. DeSantis and the State legislature he has in his pocket attempting to take over the largest employer in the State (Disney) because they spoke up about his “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. State and local governments are trying to kill the Golden Goose, and with the negative press DeSantis is getting, they may well succeed.

  • Jerry

    February 17, 2023 at 5:36 pm

    Great comment. At last someone in this State that will stand up and call out this jackass.

Comments are closed.


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