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VISIT FLORIDA Highlights Amazing Year for Florida Tourism

December 23, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, VISIT FLORIDA highlighted a successful year for Florida’s tourism industry led by the efforts of the state’s official tourism marketing corporation. Throughout the year, VISIT FLORIDA developed and managed several important marketing campaigns that delivered results on behalf of Florida taxpayers. 

VISIT FLORIDA President & CEO Dana Young said, “As we near the end of 2019, it’s important that we reflect on all of the hard work carried out by the staff at VISIT FLORIDA. We are committed to ensuring that Florida tourism remains strong, so our industry continues to create jobs and raise critical tax revenue that pays for things that are important to Floridians, like transportation, environmental protection and education. Moving forward, we will continue to tell the entire world that Florida is the best place to take a vacation. We appreciate Governor DeSantis for his leadership and support of our organization and the entire Florida tourism industry.” 

Below is a month-by-month highlight of programs and results conducted by VISIT FLORIDA to grow visitation to the state:

January

  • VISIT FLORIDA’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to support Governor Ron DeSantis’ recommendation of Dana Young as VISIT FLORIDA’s new President & CEO.
  • VISIT FLORIDA announced the addition of Florida’s first landmarks to be added to the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. VISIT FLORIDA began featuring these sites on a dedicated page within VISIT FLORIDA's new black heritage travel hub on VISITFLORIDA.com.
  • VISIT FLORIDA hosted more than 400 suppliers and buyers from 14 countries at Florida Huddle, the premier appointment-based tradeshow that showcases all the Sunshine State has to offer for domestic and international tour operators and wholesalers.
February 
  • VISIT FLORIDA awarded more than $858,000 to communities impacted by Hurricane Michael to aid in their recovery by promoting tourism to the area.
  • VISIT FLORIDA announced the state’s eighth consecutive record year for Florida tourism, welcoming an historic 127 million visitors in 2018.
March
  • VISIT FLORIDA launched the annual Families Campaign featuring authentic, culturally diverse families to position Florida as the place where families can reconnect. The campaign delivered one billion impressions, and those exposed to it were more than 1.5 times as likely to travel to Florida. Last year’s campaign generated a 95:1 return on ad spend and increased family travel to Florida by 24.4 percent.  
  • VISIT FLORIDA hosted Florida Tourism Day 2019 at the Florida Capitol, in conjunction with the Partnership for Florida’s Tourism, where nearly 600 tourism professionals showcased the state’s number one industry to the Florida Legislature. 
  • VISIT FLORIDA presented an additional $229K in grant funding to areas impacted by Hurricane Michael.
April 
  • VISIT FLORIDA accepted 152 Florida businesses into VISIT FLORIDA’s Targeted Marketing Assistance Program, which offers exclusive benefits to small, minority-owned, rural and agritourism businesses with annual gross revenues not exceeding $1.25 million. 
May 
  • VISIT FLORIDA targeted adventure travelers throughout May to build awareness of Florida as an incredible destination for an adventure. The campaign delivered 262 million impressions. Last year’s Adventure Campaign increased adventure travel to Florida by 27 percent. 
  • VISIT FLORIDA President & CEO Dana Young joined Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as he led a historic trade mission to Israel. During the trade mission, VISIT FLORIDA hosted a reception and several high-level meetings with the travel-trade industry. Florida entered into an agreement with Israel to increase travel between the two destinations, and VISIT FLORIDA began a partnership with El Al airlines.
  • VISIT FLORIDA announced an all-time record quarter for Florida tourism, with 35.7 million travelers visiting the Sunshine State from January to March 2019.
  • VISIT FLORIDA produced and promoted a digital Mother's Day video as part of our 2019 Families Campaign. The video, thanking Moms for vacations to Florida, featured footage from previous family campaigns as well as user-generated content. The video garnered 5.5 million impressions and 2.3 million views.
June  
  • VISIT FLORIDA held 175 appointments with top international and domestic tour operators, wholesalers, and trade and consumer media at IPW, the travel industry’s premier international marketplace and the largest generator of travel to the United States.
July (New Fiscal Year):
  • VISIT FLORIDA joined Governor Ron DeSantis in announcing new, nonstop seasonal El Al air service between Tel Aviv, Israel’s second most populous city, and Orlando.
August 
  • VISIT FLORIDA hosted 10 Community Tourism Meetings throughout the state in conjunction with several DMOs. VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO Dana Young met with approximately 500 business owners and tourism professionals to discuss the positive impacts of Florida’s number one industry and the ways VISIT FLORIDA can drive more visitors to area businesses.
  • VISIT FLORIDA announced that Florida welcomed the most visitors of any six-month period in the state’s history, with 69.7 million people traveling to the state from January to June 2019.
  • VISIT FLORIDA launched an eco-friendly travel hub on VISITFLORIDA.com featuring tips and resources for green, sustainable travel throughout the state.
September 
  • VISIT FLORIDA showcased eight east coast destinations on social media during a first-of-its-kind road trip following the interruption of travel over the Labor Day holiday. The daylong effort resulted in more than 1.2 million total impressions and 23,500 engagements. Also, following the threat of Hurricane Dorian, VISIT FLORIDA led the tourism industry for Live from Florida Friday. This social media campaign communicated that the state was open for business by sharing real-time views from across the state on September 20, the final Friday of summer. 
  • VISIT FLORIDA launched a new Hispanic culture travel section on VISIT FLORIDA’s consumer website in conjunction with the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. The travel section celebrates the state’s many cultures and contributions from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
October
  • VISIT FLORIDA launched a #LoveFL Stories page on VISITFLORIDA.com where residents and visitors can submit and share brief stories about Florida destinations or experiences of special significance.   
November
  • VISIT FLORIDA hosted the Florida Tourism Forum where more than 200 tourism professionals gathered to begin work on the organization’s strategic plan – the guiding document for Florida’s tourism industry.
  • Governor DeSantis and VISIT FLORIDA launched a new military-friendly travel section on VISIT FLORIDA’s website, www.visitflorida.com/military . The section is a consolidated source of Florida travel information for service members, veterans, and their families. The site includes information about discounts and experiences available to military members and their families, monuments and memorials, military-related events, museums and more.
  • VISIT FLORIDA presented Florida Encounter, VISIT FLORIDA’s signature trade show for meeting professionals. This year’s Florida Encounter saw a 34 percent increase of confirmed appointments over last year. These appointments, hosted over three days in Panama City Beach, showcased the state as the perfect location for conventions.