Tourism is Key to Florida’s Competitiveness

Florida reached another record-breaking year for tourism, by welcoming more than 116 million visitors from other states and countries in 2017.

Tourism is key to Florida’s competitiveness. The truth is that visitors to Florida help “pay the bills” and help ensure Floridians don’t pay a personal income tax.

Florida’s tourism industry brings in more than $6 billion in state taxes, and more than $5 billion in local taxes which in turn helps fund schools, improve healthcare and support other government services.

During tough economic times, investments in tourism marketing helped lift Florida up while also creating jobs for families. In fact, for every 85 visitors to Florida, one job is created.

Interestingly, first time visitors become long-term residents after learning of Florida’s welcoming and competitive business climate, and no personal income tax. And tourism is helping diversify Florida’s economy by increasing our international exposure – or increasing international trade in services.

However, one of the greatest benefits of Florida’s competitive advantage in tourism is that jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry are among the biggest training grounds for the skills employers are looking for.

At a time when Florida’s job creators are increasingly concerned with workforce quality, these are the very skills that will move Florida forward and support the 398,000 people looking for jobs.

While some jobs created are entry-level positions, Florida must continue to create an entry point into the workforce. This is especially important for helping the 2.9 million Floridians in poverty, by providing our residents with work-based solutions. We must keep in mind that the economic benefits of helping people into the workforce includes the opportunity to gain skills and earn an income – reducing dependence on social programs.

Through on-the-job training, internships and apprenticeships, employees learn valuable skills that contribute to a quality workforce in the future. Florida’s tourism and hospitality industry takes on-the-job training to new levels, and according to the U.S. Travel Association, two out of five workers that start their careers in hospitality end up earning six figures.

There’s little doubt that those who have moved to Florida – more than 100,000 in just the last year from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut – were first exposed to Florida as tourists. Florida will see increasing amounts of new residents from these states and others because of the change in tax laws benefiting Florida’s families and businesses. Florida Chamber Foundation’s Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish expects Florida’s population to expand by at least 400,000 residents during the next year. This means nearly 1,100 net new residents a day.

Florida’s tourism and hospitality industry are vital to Florida’s economy, and as Florida’s population continues to grow, so must our focus on making Florida the best place to live, work, and visit!

What Others Are Saying

  • Ken Lawson, President & CEO, VISIT FLORIDA: “Florida is open for all tourists from all the states and all countries.”
  • Q&A with Jim Dean, President of SeaWorld, Orlando
  • Expedia: A Partner in Florida Tourism

Help Secure Florida’s Tourism Industry

Florida welcomed 116.5 million visitors from other states and other countries in 2017. As the third largest state in the nation, how does tourism impact Florida’s long-term future? When visitors come to Florida, they help create jobs and pay $6 billion in state taxes and $5.3 billion in local taxes. Sales and other taxes paid by visitors help keep Floridians from having to pay an income tax. In fact, visitors to Florida pay in taxes the equivalent of $1,535 per Florida household. Tourism in Florida not only helps create jobs, but also allows Floridians in those jobs to acquire employability skills.

If you believe Florida’s tourism industry can continue to lead the way in the nation, sign the petition today.

Expedia is a Partner in Florida Tourism

By: Amanda Pedigo, Vice President, Government & Public Affairs, Americas, Expedia Group

As the summer vacation season begins, more tourists will be scouring “.com” websites to find the best lodging options for their family’s budgets. Some will opt for a traditional hotel experience and others will seek a home-like accommodation with room for the whole family. Both options, including the latter whole-home vacation rental, are critical to Florida’s thriving tourism economy.

Expedia Group, along with our family of travel brands like, HomeAway, VRBO,, Travelocity, Orbitz, and others have been and continue to be a strong partner in Florida tourism. Expedia Group platforms have made it easier than ever for consumers to compare and book travel, so it’s no surprise that thousands of travelers from all over the world come to Florida via advertising on one of the Expedia travel platforms. In just the first quarter of 2018, Expedia will see gross bookings of 322 million room nights around the world, resulting in $92 billion in gross bookings.

Expedia Group has been a longtime partner with the Florida Chamber of Commerce and we take immense pride in our positive engagement with fellow Florida Chamber partners. Expedia has a home here in Florida and has supported economic growth related to tourism and advocated for less burdensome regulation on travel and tourism across the state. Additionally, Expedia has been a strong advocate of private property rights, supporting Florida homeowners who choose to rent out their homes on a short-term basis to accommodate the growing interest in visiting the Sunshine State.

Prior to 2011, vacation rentals had been targeted by local governments considering either prohibiting or heavily regulating them. In response, and considering the economic benefits of these rentals, the Florida Legislature passed policy which prohibited local governments from passing outright bans on short-term rentals. The legislation required local governments to regulate the disruptive behavior rather than the use of the property. In 2014, the law was amended to allow local governments to again regulate the use of private property as a short-term rental but not limit the frequency or duration of the activity. As a result, in recent years, there has been an onslaught of local government activity regulating short-term “vacation” rentals.

In the legislative back-and-forth, Expedia has consistently demonstrated its commitment to working with state and local officials to craft short-term rental policies that create reasonable regulations and an enforceable system. The Florida Chamber shares Expedia’s view that there are common sense regulations that ensure communities and local governments continue to benefit, and that a ban or severely limited regulations would harm Florida’s residents and our economy.

The Sunshine State has long relied on tourism as an economic driver. For example, in 2016, Florida welcomed 112.8 million visitors who spent $109 billion and supported a record 1.4 million Florida jobs. Homeowners are part of this equation and should be allowed to contribute to Florida’s record tourism revenues by offering their home as a vacation rental.

Expedia’s commitment to promoting Florida tourism will continue to protect the ability of a traveler to choose how they want to experience our state and to protect the ability for a Florida homeowner to exercise their private property rights and keep Florida open for business.


Did You Know Florida Had Another Year of Record Breaking Tourism?

According to tourism numbers, Florida welcomed 116.5 million visitors from other states and other countries in 2017. If you believe Florida’s tourism industry can continue to lead the way in the nation, sign the petition today.