Florida basking in record tourism numbers even as overall state economy still recovering
St. Petersburg's Rock 'n' Roll half marathon in February generated millions for the local economy. Read more here. (Photo: Tyler Tjomsland, Tampa Bay Times.)
Wake up and good morning. Florida's going gaga over an apparent boom in tourism in an otherwise sluggish economy. Why the invasion of tourists? Better marketing? Pent-up demand from the recession? It's not as if northerners are flooding our way to escape a harsh winter. It's not as if gas prices have been cheap to encourage driving trips. What gives?
Whatever the causes, Florida's economy is more than delighted. Consider these headlines from around the Sunshine State:
* Pinellas County tourism posts highest-growing month in history, says this Tampa Bay Times story.
* South Florida breaking tourism records, says this South Florida Sun-Sentinel article.
* Florida still reeling in tourists, states this piece from WPTV News Channel 5 in Martin County north of Palm Beach.
* Disney quarterly profits jumps 21% thanks to parks, TV advertising, says this Orlando Sentinel story.
* Sports tourism generates $84.7M impact for Lee County, says this guest opinion in the Fort Myers News-Press.
* More Floridians ready to go on vacation, says this Sarasota Herald Tribune story.
* More heads in beds, reports this Gulf Coast Business Review story on rising hotel occupancy along the state's gulf coast.
Tourism, once the poor stepsister and yesteryear economic driver of the "old" low-wage Florida, is kickin' butt and winning renewed respect in a state newly appreciative of a solid rebound in an otherwise lackluster economy.
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times