Governor Rick Scott says Florida set another record for tourism during the first quarter of 2017.
He announced that 31.1 million visitors came here from January through March from Jungle Island in Miami Monday morning. It's the highest number of visitors in a quarter in the state's history and a 2.5 percent increase over the same time frame last year.
27.1 million of the travelers who came to Florida this year are from somewhere in the U.S. That's a 3.2 percent increase from the first quarter of 2016.
The governor used his announcement to remind Floridians that the Legislature short-changed him when it comes to funding for Visit Florida, the state's tourism marketing agency.
Governor Scott said, “I am proud to announce today that Florida set another record by welcoming 31.1 million visitors during the first quarter of 2017, the highest number of quarterly visitors in the state’s history. This historic number would not have been possible without the significant funding we have invested in VISIT FLORIDA over the past few years. It is disappointing that the Florida Legislature made a shortsighted decision to jeopardize the growth of our tourism industry and the 1.4 million jobs that rely on it by cutting funding to VISIT FLORIDA by 67 percent. Now is not the time to take our foot off the gas. In business, you would never stop marketing when you start to see great results. Instead of decimating funding to VISIT FLORIDA, we should be investing in tourism marketing so we can continue to bring record visitors to our state."
In addition to a steep cut in funding, the budget approved by the state legislature zeroed out funding for Enterprise Florida, the state's business incentive agency.
Scott had asked for big increases in funding for both agencies. He has not yet signed the budget.