More Tourists Means More Jobs

TALLAHASSEE-- With an economy seemingly back to pre-recession numbers and plenty to offer, Florida tourism business is booming. The year 2013 was another record year for out of staters coming in.

"We went to 91.5 million visitors to 94.3 million. What we calculated is, that has increased Florida jobs by a total of 75,771," Jerry Parrish of Florida Tax Watch said.

More visitors mean more jobs - so the governor wants to see an all time high of 100 million tourists come through the state this year. Early numbers from 2014 show the state is ahead of the pace. More than 26 million people stopped by in the first quarter of this year.

"Today in the state of Florida there are more visitors than live in 12 US states, and those people are coming in and experiencing all that we have to offer, they're staying in hotels, they're buying at retail stores, they're buying at restaurants," Will Seccombe of Visit Florida said.

Florida TaxWatch says with all the visitors coming in, it could lead to tax savings for the people living here year round.

The state benefits when someone from out of state and out of the country chooses to spend their money in Florida. About 23 percent of sales tax collected every year comes from tourists.

"What that makes possible is things like the tax holiday we had this past weekend, the nearly 500 million tax break that the most recent legislature gave to Florida citizens, it makes those things possible."

Visit Florida is not technically a state department, but does benefit greatly from legislature money. This past year - lawmakers voted to up the public/private partnership's budget to $74 million.

The state's tourism numbers have gone up four straight years since a recession low of 80 million visitors in 2009.