More than 36 million people visited the Sunshine State during the first quarter of 2022, surpassing pre-COVID metrics and representing a 39% increase from the same period in 2021.
Florida has been a destination state for travelers emerging from COVID-19 restrictions, welcoming nearly 120 million domestic tourists in 2021, the highest level of domestic visits in Florida’s history. The increase in tourism has boosted the local economy, marking unprecedented revenues for hotels and property rentals.
Now Florida looks set to break last year’s record, if the first quarter is any indication.
Last week, SeaWorld, which operates not only SeaWorld Orlando but also Busch Gardens in Tampa, reported an increase in attendance so far in 2022 compared to pre-pandemic levels, despite the fact that international travel to its U.S. locations remain taken down by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the company also noted that its top attractions in other states like California and Virginia were severely hampered by COVID-19-related restrictions. Despite those challenges, SeaWorld said attendance was 1.9% higher than in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic hit.
Disney’s Parks, Experience and Products division generated higher-than-expected total revenue of $6.7 billion in the second fiscal quarter of 2022, more than double that of the same period last year, according to the company’s earnings report.
Revenue is 16% higher than the $4.2 billion that was reported in the second quarter of fiscal 2019, showing a marked improvement even from pre-pandemic metrics. Operating profit also increased by 32%.
Park attendance is up from 2021, though most are from domestic origin points. The number of international visitors has still not fully returned to pre-pandemic levels, as various countries still have forms of anti-pandemic regulations in place that prevent travel to certain countries.
Disney officials, however, said they were starting to see those visitors returning.
“There were many days during the quarter where we saw demand exceed 2019 levels,” Disney’s chief financial officer said. Christine McCarthy said in an earnings call.
Travel insurance company Allianz reported that Orlando remains the top domestic summer travel destination in America, overtaking Seattle, Washington, a pair of Hawaiian Islands destinations, New York, Los Angeles, Boston and others. according to an analysis of 2022 flight routes for the summer travel months.
Other Florida destinations are also reporting record increases in attendance. The Space Coast, for example, has reported that March is the “best” month for tourist tax collection, and with more tourists likely to hit Space Coast beaches and try to catch the One of the fastest growing rocket launches in Florida this year, those numbers are likely to increase even more over the summer.
Florida hotels as a whole reported their highest total revenues, collectively amassing more than $17.3 billion, while Florida airports welcomed an 80% increase in passenger numbers.