Making Room for 100 Million Visitors
Florida once again achieved record visitation figures in 2014, and is on track to hit the 100 million annual visitors mark this year. The growth in visitation has translated into more job opportunities for Floridians, further contributions to the Gross State Product, and an increase in state and local revenues. The tourism industry is also one of the most resilient sectors during economic downturns in Florida.
In a previous report, Florida TaxWatch predicted further growth in visitation for the foreseeable future, creating jobs and increasing the state’s revenue; although when coupled with the nearly 900 people that move into Florida per day, such linear growth can be expected to put substantial pressure on the state’s transportation and tourism infrastructure, which will eventually cause this growth to subside.
To bring attention to the current state of Florida’s infrastructure, and whether it can continue to meet the needs of both residents and visitors, Florida TaxWatch has reviewed several studies that evaluate the capacity of various components that support the tourism industry, including airports, roads, and cruise terminals. This review finds that several issues could affect the experience of visitors and the quality of life of Florida residents, including: congestion on main roads; long wait times at immigration (passport control) checkpoints in international terminals; and connectivity issues around cruise terminals, especially those expecting greater demand in the next years.