On Wednesday, Visit Florida announced its estimated tourist numbers for 2018. In a year highlighted by some of the worst toxic algae problems we’ve experienced, we didn’t just set a new record, we crushed it. For the eighth consecutive year, Florida’s economy was propelled by a 6.2% increase in overall tourism. That’s a huge number in any year, but it’s clear that the best economy in a generation sent millions of Americans to our backyard.
More than 126 million tourists, about 7.5 million more than 2017, piled into our state during the year. If it seems like it’s always getting busier, it’s not your imagination. Using the average spend for 2017 as a basis, the average person visiting Florida spends $136 per day. That means, for example, a family of four will average spending $545 per day. To put it another way, we generated more than an additional billion dollars of tourism last year over 2017.
So, you’re thinking that other than the traffic it sounds great but what does it mean to you?
Florida’s overall economy averaged 4.5% growth through the third quarter of last year and importantly, income growth averaged 4.3% without the benefit of the tax cuts added in. In other words, as Florida’s economy grows, incomes are growing along with it. What happens in tourism doesn’t stay exclusively in those industries. The whole state is benefiting. What’smore, is the specific impact in South Florida. The normal incomes in the tri-county area are now averaging right at $50,000 per year with Palm Beach County leading the pack at just over $53,000 per year. Why’s that specifically significant? It’s the first time on record that the average income in South Florida has topped national averages. For years we’ve talked about the need to developbetter-payingjobs, the kind that oftenaren’tassociated with tourism. Well, it’s happening.
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