TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida tourism continues its strong rebound from the recession and moves toward a record year.
More than 22 million people visited Florida in the second quarter - up 1.3 percent from the same period last year.
All those visitors are creating jobs too. The tourism industry added 11,000 jobs between April and June. Now tourism-related employment stands at more than one million jobs and has grown 27 straight months.
Much of the increase in tourism is driven by overseas visitors, especially from Latin America. Chris Thompson, the president of the state's tourism marketing agency Visit Florida, says the number of overseas travelers jumped 10 percent last quarter.
"The strength of the overseas market has continued to be from South American countries: Brazil, Argentina, Chile and that has been the case really over the past three or four years so we're excited about the potential growth in those markets."
Thompson says Florida tourism is also benefiting from pent-up demand as Americans start to feel better about their pocketbooks.
"We've had three or four years of really tough times and I think, even though we're not out of the woods and we still have a ways to go, people are ready to get back to the things they were doing before all this started happening. Travel rises to the top of that and strong brands like Florida tend to rise to the top of the intent to travel decisions for people around the country."
Florida welcomed more than 45 million visitors through June. The state set a record last year with 87 million visitors.
First Coast News