Florida shattered the record for the state with the highest share of international tourism in 2021, eclipsing the prior mark set by New York back in 2011, officials said Friday.
Roughly 45% of all international visitors to America last year touched down in the Sunshine State, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced at a press conference.
DeSantis said that trampled the previous record of 34% set by New York in 2011.
“These foreign travelers, where are they going?” DeSantis said. “They are overwhelmingly wanting to come and vacation in Florida. We are proud of that.”
The potential Republican presidential candidate noted that New York placed a distant second to Florida for international tourism last year.
“We’re now over 20 points higher than the number two state for 2021 — which was New York at 22%,” he said.
DeSantis has routinely crowed about his state’s fiscal indicators while needing traditional economic powerhouses like New York and California in the process.
He attributed Florida’s tourism surge to the absence of restrictive COVID-19 measures that suppressed recreation.
“One of the reasons why we’ve done so well is because people can come here and you can go where you want, do what you want,” he said. “You’re not going to get shaken down for medical papers at a restaurant.”
New York and California, among other states, established COVID-19 vaccine passports that required patrons to show proof of vaccination at most commercial venues.
Officials in those areas argued that the measures were necessary to curb infections and to bolster vaccination drives.
Florida tourism officials announced last week that the state attracted 36 million people in the first quarter of 2022 — higher than the same stretch during the last pre-pandemic period of 2019.