Florida reports 2.3% increase in second-quarter visitors

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An increase in the number of Canadian visitors and a bump in the number of Floridians taking vacations within the state helped push the number of second-quarter tourists in the Sunshine State to 23.5 million.

That's a 2.3% increase over last year's second quarter, according to Visit Florida, the state's tourism marketing agency.

Visit Florida also reported that the number of passengers coming and going at the state's 14 major airports rose 4% in the second quarter.

A more favorable exchange rate meant there were more Canadian visitors to Florida during the second quarter, a 2.9% increase.

Perhaps reflecting higher fuel costs in the U.S., 3.7 million Floridians decided to take their vacations within the state during the second quarter, rising from 17.2% of residents last year to 17.8% this year.

Orlando is among the Florida destinations that saw positive results in the second quarter. The popular vacation spot is crediting its $68 million advertising campaign for the increased interest.

The Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau said a study by London-based market research company Synovate found that consumers' interest in visiting Orlando rose as a result of the campaign, which included TV ads between February and May.

The ad campaign targets women ages 25 to 54, whom the CVB considers the decision-makers when it comes to planning family vacations.

Specifically, the CVB said the study revealed that nearly 1 million more households plan to visit the Orlando area within the next year as a result of the campaign and that many have already heeded the campaign's message to visit Orlando.

Later this fall, a campaign aimed at Canadian mothers will include TV, radio, newspaper and online ads.

The biggest U.S. push will come early next year, when Orlando launches TV ads from mid-January to early May. Orlando said that print ads will appear beginning in March.

To contact reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to [email protected].

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