Florida Tourism Numbers Hit New High In 2017

Mar 20, 2018
C.M. GUERRERO / Miami Herald

Hurricane Irma kept Florida from reaching a goal of 120 million visitors last year but didn’t stop the state from hitting a new single-year tourism high, according to numbers released Tuesday by Gov. Rick Scott.

Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Service

When Hurricane Irma crossed the Florida Keys six months ago, the Upper Keys village of Islamorada was 50 miles from the eye, which held the storm's strongest winds.

AP Photo/Terry Renna

If the call to boycott travel to Florida over gun control has any impact, this tweet is where it began.

Take a look at the last receipt you got from a hotel stay in Florida. You’ll likely notice a number of taxes and fees. Some of that money goes toward what’s called a tourism development tax and is meant to be used for a tourism-related projects. Now state lawmakers are digging into what exactly counts as tourism related.

Larry Benvenuti / Florida Keys Keynoter

It's been more than 80 years since a train rolled along the Florida Keys. But this week, one car moved along a small piece of the island chain.

For decades, the red Pullman car has been a familiar sight at the east end of the Seven Mile Bridge.

The train car served as the visitor's center for Pigeon Key. It wasn't actually on Pigeon Key because that island, in the middle of the old Seven Mile Bridge is only accessible by boat.

Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Bureau

It’s been almost three months since Hurricane Irma crossed the Florida Keys — and the heart of the tourism season is right around the corner. But some parts of the Keys are still cleaning up from the storm and some major resorts are still closed. 

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

In some parts of the Keys, people are still salvaging what they can of their belongings, or figuring out where they will live.

In Key West, local and state leaders gathered Wednesday to send one message: they are open for business.

"Restaurants are open. Hotels are open. Every tourist in the country, in the world, needs to come back to Key West and the Florida Keys," said Gov. Rick Scott.

He spoke at an oceanfront hotel flanked by Key West officials and tourism promoters who were carrying conch shells and waving Conch Republic flags.

Hurricane Irma’s state-engulfing radar signature and widespread damage will be a hard image to shake, but tourism experts say Florida’s biggest industry will rebound.

The number of tourists visiting Florida continues to grow.

Bob Care / Florida Keys News Bureau

The annual Poker Run that sees an estimated 10,000 motorcycles travel down the Keys is officially off.

"There will be NO Poker Game or official stops," according to an announcement on the event's web page, hosted by organizer Peterson's Harley-Davidson. "Sorry for all the confusion, we have not been able to get the support of local Charities and Volunteers this year."

But it appears that the event is not permanently gone.

Attracting more than 120 million visitors before the end of the calendar year remains a goal of the state's tourism-marketing arm, now that Visit Florida's funding won't be slashed.

Visit Florida's Vice President Steps Down

Jun 27, 2017

Vice President of Florida’s tourism agency, Alfredo Gonzalez is stepping down. Spokesman Stephen Lawson says Visit Florida’s current President, Ken Lawson will lead the organization forward.

Courtesy Morikami Museum and Gardens

Palm Beach County commissioners have given parks and recreation officials the go-ahead to start on a unique project 30 years in the making: a traditional Japanese inn, called a ryokan, slated for the Morikami Museum and Gardens in Delray Beach.

The inn was in the original master plan for the property, but it's taken years to come close to fruition. 

Rob O'Neal / Florida Keys News Bureau

Updated June 26: 

At its June 20 meeting, the Key West City Commission voted 5-2 to approve an agreement with Phil Peterson's Key West Poker Run that provides for the city to close off part of Duval Street and the organization to pay for police and fire services during the event.

Every year, an estimated 10,000 motorcycles rumble down the Overseas Highway from Miami to Key West during the third weekend of September in the annual Phil Peterson's Poker Run.