South Florida Tourism Is Exploding


The Sunshine State is getting a whole lot sunnier thanks to the ongoing boom in tourism. And with tourism comes plenty of growth, including a growing economy. With a tourism industry so bright you might want to wear shades, what exactly is driving this exciting boom? Read on to learn some mind-blowing South Florida tourism statistics and the most popular tourist attractions in South Florida that are driving this industry.


South Florida Tourism Statistics


When we say mind-blowing, we mean mind-blowing. For the fourth consecutive record year, 2014 broke tourism records. Florida welcomed over 97 million visitors that year, close to a 4 percent increase from the previous record-breaking year.

Not that we’re complaining about breaking records every year, but where are all these visitors coming from? It turns out a big chunk of them — over 11 million — are coming from overseas. That’s close to a 3 percent increase from 2013. Canadians are also enjoying visits to the sunshine state, coming in at close to 4 million, a 2.4 increase from the previous year.


More Visiting Equates to More Money for Southern Florida


As visitors swarm to Southern Florida, they bring with them plenty of spending money. Broward County alone enjoyed over $11 billion in revenue from visitors, up from $10.6 billion the year before. That’s music to every Florida business’ ears!


With the tourism dollars streaming in, Florida’s overall economy is enjoying a boom, too. The tourism industry employs over 1.1 million people as of 2014, a figure that was up by over 3.5 percent from 2013. The impact the tourist attractions have on Florida is huge: $67 billion to be exact.

The construction sector is also benefitting from a healthy tourism industry. While it was temporarily on the slow down, it’s now making major progress again. In fact, employment is growing fastest in the construction sector. In Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the number of construction jobs increased by close to 9% from 2013 to 2014. Compared to total employment growth of 3.4%, that number is huge.


A healthy tourism industry is crucial to South Florida due to how many jobs it creates. For each tourism job, there’s another job created, whether it’s in infrastructure, logistics or construction. Not only is Florida employing more people than ever before, but our state is lucky enough to offer variety, too!


Why Are Tourists Choosing Florida?


Obviously, there are plenty of reasons why travelers choose Florida for their destination of choice. Who doesn’t want to bask in the sun and salty air while enjoying over 660 miles of pristine beaches? In fact, of all U.S. visitors, 40 percent cited waterfront activities and beaches as their top reason for visiting.


And let’s not overlook Florida’s other tourist destinations: theme parks. Eight of the top 20 North American ones can be found in Florida. On a global scale, Florida has three of the top 20 water parks. These are huge tourist attractions, bringing in more than 60 million visitors in 2014. Besides Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando has Universal Orlando, Sea World and Cypress Gardens. No wonder Orlando is the one of largest vacation spots in the in the Unites States!

While beaches and amusement parks are key to Florida tourism, you can’t overlook the cruise ports. In 2014, 4.8 million vacationers passed through PortMiami, making it the most active cruise port on the planet. Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades came in at a close second, with 3.8 million passengers. All in all, Florida is owning the U.S. cruise industry, with cruise lines, crew and passengers spending $7 billion in Florida during 2013.


Can Florida Sustain All This Growth?


The short answer to Florida’s ability to handle this growth is yes, yes it can. New hotels are being built, such as the 156-suite Residence Inn by Marriott Fort Lauderdale Airport and 105-room Hampton Inn & Suites in Coconut Creek. Four of Florida’s largest airports and 15 of its major seaports are tackling billions of dollars worth of renovations and expansions. The seaports alone are making $3.5 billion in improvements over the next five years. Brightline is gearing up to start cutting-edge train service in 2017 that will connect Miami, West Palm Beach and Orlando. The result will be less highway congestion, lower pollution levels and revitalized downtowns — not to mention the nearly 10,000 jobs it’s creating during construction alone.


When you take away the tourism industry, including retail jobs and hospitality, Florida is still leading the nation on new jobs. In fact, The Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index ranked the Sunshine State as having the healthiest business climate among the states with the largest populations.


The moral of the story is, don’t plan on taking your sunglasses off anytime soon. With this kind of growth and the rail infrastructure Brightline is creating to provide an additional mode of transportation, the future of Florida is bright.

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