Ron DeSantis claims ‘freedom first’ policies drive Florida’s tourism boom – Florida Politics

Tourists continue to stream to the Sunshine State, and Gov. Ron DeSantis credits “freedom first” policies for the out-of-state surge.

“Our freedom first policies continue to bring visitors to Florida from across the country and around the world,” DeSantis said. “This increase in tourism will support our entire economy, especially small businesses that have been built from the ground up by hardworking Floridians.”

DeSantis’ affirmation of the Sunshine State’s appeal to tourists is backed up by numbers, via VISIT FLORIDA.

The state tourism agency estimates 35.1 million people visited Florida between July and September this year, good for a 6.9% uptick over the same period last year. Of those visitors, 32.6 million were domestic.

Yearly, visitation is up 4.1% from 2019, a time before the COVID-19 pandemic. So far this year, visitation is up 15.3% from 2021.

Years ago, VISIT FLORIDA was under siege, with legislative moves typically stemming from the House to cut funding for the agency. Under the DeSantis administration, the agency mission seems to have stabilized, as evidenced by President and CEO Dana Young‘s own statement.

“We are thrilled to cap off more outstanding growth for Florida’s tourism industry in the third quarter of 2022,” Young said. “Even as more destinations have become available, Florida has firmly maintained the top spot on every traveler’s list. Looking ahead, VISIT FLORIDA is wholly focused on continuing the momentum we have created, and further reinforcing that we are the No. 1 vacation destination in the world.”

Challenges remain, of course, including a hurricane season that saw two named late-season storms cause damage throughout the state. Last month saw the agency launch a $2.7 million marketing campaign to establish the premise that the “Sun is Shining in Florida.”

Those so-called “post-storm marketing programs” ran through the end of October in major markets on both digital and social platforms, and could help ameliorate a potential Q4 tourism slowdown.

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