Christina Johnson

(Tallahassee, Fla.) – Tourism leaders are set to gather in Tallahassee for Florida Tourism Day on Wednesday, January, 20, 2016. Each year, the Partnership for Florida’s Tourism hosts the event to educate the legislature, media and Floridians on the significant role tourism plays in the success of our state’s economy.

Florida set a new record for tourism in 2015, welcoming 79.1 million visitors over the first nine months of the year, according to preliminary estimates by VISIT FLORIDA. That number is the highest amount of visitors of any nine months in the state’s history. Visitation numbers for the last quarter of 2015, which have not yet been reported, are expected to push Florida to a record 100 million annual visitors.

Tourism-related employment is also growing, with an average of 1.2 million tourism-related jobs for the first nine months of 2015, up nearly 5 percent over the same period in 2014. Governor Rick Scott recently announced that Florida’s unemployment rate has dropped to 5 percent, the lowest in seven years.

Eleven statewide organizations are scheduled to participate in the 2016 Florida Tourism Day event and will host a downtown nighttime celebration that is open to the public at a cost of $15.00 per person for food, beverages and entertainment. The street party begins at 5 p.m. at the corner of Adams Street and College Avenue with ‘The Free Wheelin’ Band’ playing at the outdoor event. Last year, Florida Tourism Day drew more than 550 industry attendees who met with more than 135 legislators and government leaders.

Participating organizations include: Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, VISIT FLORIDA, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Attractions Association, Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations, Florida Association of Museums, Film Florida, Florida Sports Foundation, Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association, and the Florida Cattlemen’s Association.

“As we begin a new year for the tourism industry, it’s important that we maintain and build upon the momentum of last year’s record-breaking success. Tourism employs more than 1.1 million Floridians, and Florida Tourism Day is an opportunity for industry leaders to highlight the pivotal role that tourism plays in our state’s economic growth,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

“Florida’s record visitation numbers prove that the state’s investment in tourism marketing is paying off. The tourism industry generates billions of dollars in visitor spending each year, contributing to sales tax revenue and job creation. With continued support from Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature, our state is well on its way to reaching $100 billion in travel-related spending by 2020,” said Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA.

“For many Floridians, tourism represents much more than an industry; it’s a livelihood. One job is supported for every 85 visitors to our state. As a partner in the 2016 Florida Tourism Day event, the Florida Attractions Association aims to shed light on the positive economic impact of our state’s diverse attractions,” said Bill Lupfer, President and CEO of the Florida Attractions Association.

“Florida’s tourism industry has made tremendous progress over the last year. The number of tourism-related jobs in Florida is increasing, and our state’s unemployment rate is the lowest in seven years. It is crucial that industry leaders, along with Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature, continue working together to ensure future success for our state’s top industry,” said Bobby Cornwell, President and CEO of the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

“Every day, cities and counties across our state benefit from the tourism marketing efforts of Florida’s destination marketing organizations and VISIT FLORIDA. That’s why it is so important for Florida to protect the current uses of the Tourist Development Tax and maintain VISIT FLORIDA’s funding,” said Robert Skrob, Executive Director of the Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations.

“With growing visitation numbers and tourism-related employment, it’s clear that tourism and tourism marketing are major economic drivers for Florida. The Florida Association of Museums looks forward to another year of increased visitation, visitor spending and job creation in the tourism industry,” said Malinda Horton, Executive Director of the Florida Association of Museums.

“Florida’s film, television and digital media industry provides exposure for our state, which encourages tourism and future Florida-based productions. Showcasing our beautiful state through film and entertainment media is another way to market Florida to a broad audience and spur economic growth,” said Michelle Hillery, President of Film Florida.

“Sports and recreation represent a $44 billion industry in Florida, attracting about 13 million out-of-state visitors each year. We are major contributors to Florida’s tourism industry, and I am excited to join with other industry leaders to recognize and celebrate the positive impact that tourism has on our state year-round,” said John Webb, President of the Florida Sports Foundation.

“The Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association is proud to advocate for Florida’s No. 1 industry through the 2016 Florida Tourism Day event. With the vacation rental sector growing steadily and now delivering a $31 billion dollar per year economic impact to the state hospitality industry, we are excited about being part of Tourism Day. By promoting the importance of tourism, tourism marketing and the Tourist Development Tax, we can help protect Florida’s economy and the 1.2 million Floridians employed by the tourism industry,” said Denis Hanks, Executive Director of the Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association.

“Food is a big part of the travel experience, and Florida cattle ranchers are dedicated to making sure the highest-quality beef is produced in a sustainable way. The 2016 Florida Tourism Day event allows us to bring attention to Florida’s cattle industry, which is among the 10 largest in the nation, making it a top industry for our state alongside tourism,” said Jim Handley, Executive Vice President of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association.

About the Partnership for Florida’s Tourism

The Partnership for Florida’s Tourism began in 2006 as a grassroots coalition designed to raise awareness of the importance of tourism and increase public funding of tourism marketing. Key stakeholders in the tourism industry have joined in this effort. The Partnership consists of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Florida Attractions Association, Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations and VISIT FLORIDA. For additional information, please go to TourismWorksforFlorida.org.

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