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.

Q&A with Jim Dean, President, SeaWorld, Orlando

SeaWorld, a member of the Florida Chamber of Commerce since 1975, has been inspiring and educating guests to take care of the world around them since their founding in 1964. Today, with more than 50 years of experience under their belt and three parks nationwide, SeaWorld is ready to reinforce their commitment to environmental conservation and…fun.

Recently we sat down with Jim Dean, President of SeaWorld, Orlando to discuss the importance of the tourism industry to Florida’s economy, as well as the new and exciting innovations that are transforming this unique park into a leader for environmental change.


Q1: Florida and its connection to the environment are very important. Along those lines, SeaWorld recently announced its “Park to Planet” mission. Tell us more about this new effort.

Park to Planet is the idea that you can “See it here. Save it there”. We want every guest to know that when you visit SeaWorld, you’re supporting conservation efforts for wild animals and habitats across the globe. You’re also supporting SeaWorld’s world-renowned animal rescue program, which to date has come to the aid of more than 31,000 ill, injured and orphaned animals to give them a second chance at life. Simply put, we’re on a mission, and it’s big. But together it’s not impossible. Together we’re going to protect marine life and the oceans they call home. With partners like Coca-Cola and the Everglades Foundation, we’re able to not only educate our guests on these important environmental issues, while they have a fun and exciting time, but we’re also able to make a real impact in conserving these natural resources.

Q2: The summer tourism season is about to kick off in Florida. SeaWorld has unveiled several new rides, attractions and events and is set to open more in the near future. What’s been your focus as you look for new and innovative ways to provide exciting experiences for your guests?

We’ve got a lot for our guests to be excited about. Our focus is on providing meaningful experiences that inspire our guests to learn about and protect wild animals and the places they live. We also want to provide experiences that bring families together for fun in positive, meaningful and exciting ways. To that end, we’ve introduced some new, and returning, events and attractions this year. Ray Rush just opened at Aquatica Orlando – this promises to be an amazing water adventure that will combine three unique slide elements, never before seen at Aquatica, into one action-packed attraction the entire family can enjoy together. At nearly 60 feet tall, Ray Rush is where family and friends can take on three exciting thrills as they slide, splash and soar like never before.

Additionally, this summer we’ll open Infinity Falls at SeaWorld Orlando. Infinity Falls will take guests on an adventure through a lush rainforest environment inspired by some of the world’s most incredible freshwater ecosystems. The new attraction will feature the world’s tallest drop on a river raft ride and allow visitors to experience the feel of exhilarating rapids. The ride will also feature an innovative elevator lift designed to transport the rafts to the top of the ride’s 40-foot drop before plunging into churning whitewater.

For more information on the exciting attractions and entertainment options for guests this summer, feel free to visit

Q3: Animal protection and conservation is at the core of what SeaWorld does. Tell us about some of the conservation partnerships and initiatives SeaWorld has launched here in Florida.

For more than 50 years, animal rescue and rehabilitation has been the heart of SeaWorld. From habitat protection and supporting ocean health initiatives to our many rescue and rehabilitation efforts SeaWorld is part of conservation projects across the globe. SeaWorld supports worldwide conservation initiatives through funding, expertise, onsite support, education, and more.

One exciting partnership is with renowned artist and conservationist Guy Harvey. He is actively working with SeaWorld to help raise awareness on protecting sharks and their natural habitats. Another recent partnership is with shark tagging experts OCEARCH. SeaWorld and OCEARCH are brands focused on the global conservation of marine animals and the world’s oceans. We’re both purpose-driven organizations; we love the ocean and want to ensure an abundant resource for future generations. Together, we will focus on bringing everyday people closer to the water by sharing real-time data, content, and park experiences.

We’re also excited to announce that we just renewed our partnership with the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation on important initiatives, like the Killer whale Research and Conservation Program, which works to protect and sustain the endangered Southern Resident killer whale. This is part of SeaWorld’s $10 million pledge to fund conservation efforts for wild killer whales. And there’s so much more. Through the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund alone, we have supported more than 1,200 conservation projects on all 7 continents. Animal conservation is at the heart of who we are, and we want to share that passion with each and every guest so they are inspired to join us in our mission.


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.