As business restrictions were gradually lifted from the coronavirus shutdown, Florida’s tourism industry saw a nearly 32% drop in visitors during the third quarter compared to the same period last year, according to numbers released Thursday by Visit Florida.
The estimate of 22.112 million travelers from the start of July to the end of September is significantly below what the state needs from the vital revenue-generating industry, which helps fund the state budget and in good years produces up to 1.5 million jobs.
However, the third-quarter figure was a noticeable upgrade from the 60.5% drop in tourism experienced in April, May and June as businesses closed or scaled back to try to slow the spread of the virus. More than 900,000 Florida residents have tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, since the pandemic started.
Visit Florida President and CEO Dana Young called the third-quarter numbers encouraging.
“Although out-of-state visitation was down again in the third quarter of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are encouraged to see some signs of recovery in our visitation estimates, particularly with international travel almost nonexistent,” Young said in a prepared statement. “These positive trends coincide with Visit Florida’s