A record number of tourists visited Florida last year.
About 97.3 million tourists traveled to the Sunshine State, marking the fourth year in a row of steady increases, according to a press release from Gov. Rick Scott. According to the state’s tourism website, Visit Florida, that was nearly 4 million more visitors than in 2013.
“People now have more discretionary income and are beginning to travel again,” director of Visit Gainesville John Pricher wrote in an email.
He said the improvement of the economy as well as the beauty of Florida’s natural attractions brings people to the state.
“We have a wealth of (beauty) between springs and the rivers and the state parks and just the overall natural surroundings does make us a nice choice for visitors,” Pricher said
According to Visit Florida, 11.5 percent of the 97.3 million tourists in 2014 weren’t from the U.S., an increase from 2013.
Visit Florida also estimated 20.2 million Floridians toured the state, an increase from 2013 as well.
“Florida’s natural beauty, pristine beaches and exciting attractions continue to bring countless visitors to our state and provide valuable jobs for our families,” Scott said in the release.
In the release, Scott promised to make 2015 an even better year for tourism in the state.
The governor said he is proposing an additional $17.5 million as a part of his “Keep Florida Working” budget so Visit Florida can better market the state and continue the rise in tourist numbers.
Visit Tampa Bay spokesman Dave Reynolds said part of what makes Florida so attractive is the diverse number of attractions it offers as well as the weather.
“Coming on a vacation to Florida isn’t just a sit-around-in-a-five-star-hotel sort of situation,” Reynolds said. “It’s a place where you can go explore and be active and do things that you can share with your friends and just make it a vacation that is really about yourself and about taking part in all the great activities we have here.”
[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 2/18/2015 under the headline “Tourists flock to sunny Fla"]