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Nearly 30 million people visited Florida in first three months of 2016

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Millions of people traveled to the Sunshine State in the first three months of 2016, according to first-quarter tourism estimates released Monday.

Approximately 29.8 million tourists came to Florida in the first quarter. That’s up 6.6 percent from the same three-month period in 2015.

“I’m thrilled that Florida continues to break records in the amount of tourists visiting our state. Nearly 30 million visitors have enjoyed our beautiful beaches and attractions so far this year, and a record high of more than 1.2 million Floridians are employed in the tourism industry — which is great news,” said Gov. Rick Scott in a statement Monday. “Last year, we exceeded our goal of a historic 105 million visitors because of Florida’s unique national treasures, and I look forward to smashing our record again this year by welcoming 115 million visitors to the Sunshine State.”

According to VISIT FLORIDA, the state saw fewer international tourists, including those coming from Canada. However, the state saw a nearly 7 percent increase in the number of domestic tourists traveling to the state in the first three months of the year.

VISIT FLORIDA estimates 25.5 million domestic visitors traveled to Florida in the first three months of 2016. That’s up from 23.9 million in the first quarter of 2015, or 6.6 percent.

The state saw more than 2.6 million visitors from overseas in the first three months of 2016, down 6.3 percent from 2.8 million visitors in 2015. When it comes to Canadians, VISIT FLORIDA estimates 1.6 million Canadians visits Florida in 2016, down slightly from 1.64 million Canadian visitors in the first quarter of 2015.

“Given the challenges our industry is facing — the strong dollar’s impact on Canada and issues in Brazil — this record quarter for Florida tourism is even more exciting. It’s further proof that tourism marketing works,” said Will Seccombe, president and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. “Our strategy of showcasing both the familiar and off-the-beaten-path travel opportunities remind potential visitors that, while Florida is filled with destinations they know and can trust, there is always more to discover.”

The first quarter of the year has been the busiest three-month period of the year since 2014, according to VISIT FLORIDA. More than 28.4 million visitors came to Florida in the first three months of 2015; while 26.6 million visited Florida in the first quarter of 2014.

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