Florida is getting closer to welcoming 100million annual visitors, with tourism numbers breaking records each year and 2015 expected to hit new highs.
Prominent among rising numbers of visitors are Canadians – with one in 10 of the population visiting Florida, a tourism industry conference has heard.
The 2014 official figures are set to be released soon, but those from 2013 show that 94.7million visitors came to Florida in 2013, up on 91.5million the previous year. Around 11.5million were international visitors, which included 3.7million Canadians.
Florida is a popular destination for Canadian ‘snowbirds’ looking to escape the cold weather in the north.
Visit Florida President and CEO Will Seccombe told the recent Florida Huddle tourism conference that there had been increases in visitors from Brazil, the United Kingdom, Argentina and Venezuela, and Canada, the Sun Sentinel reports.
“We’re really confident the international market is going to pay off for Florida [in 2015]. The [tourism] records that we’ve set over the last three to four years would not have happened had it not been for the really incredible growth in international visitation, incredible growth from our Canadian visitors … and huge growth from Latin America.”
Garrett Kenny, CEO of Florida agent and developer, the Feltrim Group, which is set to begin work on five new projects this year, says it has seen growing demand from Canadians and Latin Americans for both sales and rental property.
“There was some concern that the falling value of the Canadian currency to the US dollar might dampen demand, but we’ve seen none of it. In fact, some of those renting Feltrim property are so pleased that they are now buying from us.
“It’s true that those having to convert from loonies to US dollars may lose out a little, but they take the view that Florida property is still well-priced and some way off its record high, so they are likely to make strong gains in the long run.
“We’ve also seen rising interest from Latin Americans, particularly Brazilians, which reflects official visitor figures and data from the Florida Realtors. China is another key area for us and we regularly hold sales events there.”
During the first nine months of 2014, Florida received 73.9 million visitors, a 2.5% year-on-year rise, it is estimated. Tourism chiefs hope that by 2020, visitor numbers will reach 127 million.
New tourism marketing initiatives are expected to further growth in 2015, Visit Florida believes. It also is introducing new Florida Guide apps in English, Spanish, Portuguese and other languages for smartphones and tablets.