Miami, Feb 19 (IANS/EFE) Florida welcomed 89.3 million tourists in 2012, 2.3 percent more than the previous year and the second consecutive yearly record by the state known worldwide for its fabulous weather, beaches and amusements parks.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott made the announcement Monday, saying that the figures are preliminary but adding that they are indicative of the state's economic recovery, given that the tourism figures for 2011 and 2012 exceeded those registered for 2007, before Florida's economy suffered the harsh double blow dealt by the financial crisis and the bursting of the real estate bubble.
The state also set a record in 2012 for 1.03 million new jobs directly created by the tourism and travel sector.
Scott went on to say that the state welcomed a record 10.2 million foreign tourists last year, including 3.6 million Canadians, a 9 percent and 7.3 percent increase over the previous year, respectively.
This is the first time that Florida has been visited by more than 10 million foreigners, a landmark that authorities and the tourist sector hope will be maintained in 2013, when the state celebrates the 500th anniversary of its discovery by Spanish explorers.
To celebrate Florida's fifth centennial, authorities have devoted extensive efforts to organizing all sorts of festivals and the Spanish Royal Palace has not ruled out having a member of the royal family on hand for some of those events.