Florida had more summer tourists than before pandemic, DeSantis says

The Sunshine State has had a busy summer, despite a spate of coronavirus cases.

About 32.5 million travelers visited Florida from July to September of this year, Governor Ron DeSantis said on Tuesday. The number of tourists during the summer season topped 2019 by a small 0.3% compared to the more than 37% drop in visitor numbers that Florida experienced in 2020.

This summer was the first time the state has recorded tourism gains since the coronavirus was first detected in the state – and it was primarily driven by domestic travel.

Visitors to Florida in the third quarter of the year from other parts of the country exceeded 2019 by 7%, according to estimates from the state’s tourism marketing organization, Visit Florida.

Related: The Cost of the Pandemic: How Tampa Bay Lost Billions to COVID-19

Tampa Bay has also experienced a historic tourist season.

Although Visit Tampa Bay’s revenue for this fiscal year was down more than 8% from 2019, the travel agency said half of the months this year saw record numbers. Hotel collections for September hit $ 3 million for the first time, breaking the previous October 2019 record by more than 17%, according to a statement from the agency that promotes tourism in Hillsborough County.

Pinellas County began recording record tax revenue for tourism development in June, according to Visit St. Pete / Clearwater. St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport experienced its busiest month in July with 262,000 passengers.

Related: Canadian Snowbirds return to Tampa Bay

“We were able to set these records because in Florida we kept the businesses open and made sure Floridians could continue to work,” DeSantis said in a statement.

There are signs that the rebound in tourism in Florida will continue. Visit Tampa Bay’s first month hotel occupancy rate is 67%, up from 64% in 2019.

Looking to the future, international travel is also expected to make a comeback in winter and accelerate tourism. state growth, Dana Young, head of the state’s tourism agency, said in a statement.

Related: Tampa Bay Vacation Travelers Beware of Flight Delays and Cancellations

Tampa International Airport has more routes now than before the pandemic and continues to add and restart international routes since the opening of US borders to foreign travelers earlier this month. Travel between Tampa and London resumed on November 16, and Lufthansa is launching a new brand of US flights, Eurowings Discover, to Frankfurt in December.

Tampa International has recovered from the pandemic faster than most airports. According to figures from the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, passenger recovery from pre-pandemic levels is 16% higher in Tampa than at the average U.S. airport.

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The holiday season will be the next big Florida travel season to watch for record breaking.

Tampa International Airport welcomed nearly 75,000 passengers on Sunday, the first time since March 2020. The airport estimated that nearly 80,000 passengers passed through Tampa on peak days during the holiday season, the gate said. – airport speech, Emily Nipps.

St. Pete-Clearwater International is also expecting a busy holiday season. Pinellas County Airport issued a statement encouraging travelers to organize transportation, as parking is expected to meet capacity.

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