FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. February 16, 2022.- Governor Ron DeSantis announced that Florida welcomed 30.9 million visitors between October and December 2021, marking the second consecutive quarter that overall visitation has surpassed 2019, pre-pandemic levels. Overall in 2021, Florida had nearly 118 million domestic visitors, the highest level in state history, as residents of other states flocked to Florida as a refuge from lockdown policies. For more information, click here.
Following the announcement, tourism industry leaders and business owners praised Governor DeSantis and VISIT FLORIDA for their support of the tourism industry. Here is what they are saying:
Darien Schaefer, President and CEO of Visit Pensacola said, “Tourism in Pensacola and beyond is thriving thanks to Governor DeSantis and VISIT FLORIDA’s unwavering commitment to our industry. Their efforts have allowed us to take full advantage of the national pent up travel demand and introduce millions of new visitors to everything our great state has to offer.”
Richard Gonzmart, 4th Generation Caretaker and Co-Owner of Columbia Restaurant Group said, “Florida’s food and beverage sector heavily depends on visitation to our state, so tourism’s record year in 2021 is a huge win for our industry. We sincerely appreciate everything Governor DeSantis and VISIT FLORIDA have done to generate visitors and support businesses.”
DT Minich, President and CEO of Experience Kissimmee said, “VISIT FLORIDA continues to deliver results for Kissimmee and Florida’s entire tourism industry. We have begun 2022 in a position of incredible strength, and we are looking forward to celebrating even more successes for our state’s No. 1 industry in the months ahead.”
Loretta Shaffer, Director of the Ocala / Marion County Visitors and Convention Bureau said, “Florida tourism’s amazing year further underscores the value of Governor DeSantis’ leadership and VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing, which has helped drive visitation to Florida’s destinations large and small. Marion County was one of Florida’s fastest growing counties for domestic visitation in 2021, and our partnership with VISIT FLORIDA will ensure we can keep this momentum going.”
Philip McDaniel, CEO of St. Augustine Distillery said, “As one of Florida’s top destinations, St. Augustine runs on tourism, and VISIT FLORIDA has been crucial for boosting our visitation share this past year. We are grateful for Governor DeSantis’ support of Florida’s No. 1 industry and keeping our tourism economy strong.”
Mel Ponder, Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners Chairman said, “The Okaloosa County Tourism Development Department is pleased to partner with VISIT FLORIDA. Their support helps us to stay on the cusp of new ideas for reaching and welcoming new and repeat guests to Destin-Fort Walton Beach. Governor DeSantis’ leadership compliments the guest experience by supporting tourism businesses through limited regulation. Destin-Fort Walton Beach tourism partners experienced record-breaking growth in 2021, and we look forward to warmly welcoming guests to a newly expanded countywide tourism destination.”