By Jane Bartnett
Thanks to a strong increase in domestic and Canadian travel, statistics show that Florida welcomed 30.9 million domestic visitors in the fourth quarter of 2021. It was the second consecutive quarter with higher visitation rates than in 2019. For the year of 2021 as a whole, some 117.7 million domestic visitors were recorded, making it the highest level of domestic visitor numbers in the state’s history.
In addition, 359,000 Canadian travelers visited Florida between October and December of 2021. That number is nearly three times as many as in the previous quarter. Approximately 1.5 million overseas visitors came to Florida in the fourth quarter of 2021, reflecting an increase of 198% compared to 2020, and 43% from the third quarter of 2021.
Last year, Columbia became Florida’s No. 1 international origin country with 709,000 visitors.
During the year of 2021, Dana Young, president and CEO of Visit Florida, stated that “Overall visitation not only exceeded 2019’s for the second quarter in a row, but domestically reached the highest point in our state’s history.”
She called the last 12 months “An incredible year with more record-breaking success for Florida’s tourism industry.”
Ann Frescura, executive director of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, said “What we heard from our members overall was that business in general was often record-setting, despite staffing shortages and delivery issues.”
Numerous local Siesta Key retail business owners also noted that the traditionally quiet summer months also showed strength this past year.