‘A beacon of freedom’: Gov. DeSantis touts record-shattering tourism in Q3

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‘Florida has secured a new normal.’

The Sunshine State welcomed more third-quarter visitors this year than ever before, according to the latest figures from VISIT FLORIDA.

Between July 1 and September 30, more than 35 million out-of-state travelers came to Florida, an increase of 1.6% from the same period in 2022 and 8% higher than before COVID-19 struck.

Through the beginning of October, the state has seen 105.2 million visitors, 96.4 million of whom were domestic. Six million came from overseas. Another 2.8 traveled down from Canada.

International travel here is still on track to reach a record post-pandemic high, as Florida Politics reported previously.

And the reason for those strong numbers is simple, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“Florida continues to set records for visitation because of our commitment to allowing visitors to enjoy their travels without arbitrary government restrictions,” he said in a statement Thursday. “Florida will continue to be a beacon for freedom for travelers.”

Spending is up too, 11.3% over Q3 2019, compared to 3.9% nationwide. Meanwhile, travel spending is down 3.2% in California and 1.2% in New York, VISIT FLORIDA said.

The agency’s President and CEO, Dana Young, credited DeSantis’ “visionary leadership” and “Freedom First policies.”

DeSantis recommended Young, a former Republican Senator from Tampa, to lead the public-private VISIT FLORIDA partnership shortly after he took office in 2019.

“VISIT FLORIDA’s efforts, in conjunction with local tourism partners, do more than spotlight the unparalleled beauty of the Sunshine State but have also fueled growth in visitation from global travelers,” she said in a statement. “Florida has secured a new normal with an elevated market share of tourism, especially international tourism.”

She’s not wrong, according to data from her agency, which shows the number of overseas and Canadian visitors 19.3% and 60.3% higher, respectively, from the same period last year.

The total percentage increase of all visitors is up 0.7% from the first nine months of 2022.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Free-Dumb

    November 16, 2023 at 2:55 pm

    ‘A beacon of freedom’ my a$$.
    Ask anybody who has publicly disagreed with DeSantis’ policy on anything and see what they think of his weird views on “freedom”.

    • Impeach Biden

      November 16, 2023 at 3:35 pm

      What exactly are his weird views? The NAACP told people of color to stay away from Florida. Did they? Nope. Like everyone else they like Florida and DeSantis has done a great job.

      • TJC

        November 16, 2023 at 4:11 pm

        His weird views:
        Like the doublethink of Big Brother in Orwell’s “1984,” DeSantis says parental freedom is when a few parents get to decided what other parents’ children get to read in school.
        He claims that the teaching of Black history needs to be restricted in order to protect the feelings of white kids (and you guys call liberals snowflakes?).
        He has an obsession with illegal immigration that has led to a shortage of construction workers, farm laborers, and hospitality workers — putting brakes on a very good economic engine that could be even better.
        In an embarassing display of hubris, he repeatedly claims that Floridians have developed pride in their state since he became Governor, having been embarassed to be Floridians before his arrival — all but admitting he views himself as a savior.
        He apparently believes that in order to sound like a regular guy, and not some college educated elitist, he should pepper his sentences with “you know,” and “like,” and “stuff.”
        Those are weird ideas, weird views.

  • PeterH

    November 16, 2023 at 5:39 pm

    Florida visitors arrive off season because traveling here is less expensive. Visitors come here in spite of Desantis because they know his 15 minutes in the spotlight are over.

Comments are closed.


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