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American Visitors Bolster Florida's Tourism Numbers

Governor Rick Scott was in Tampa Tuesday to unveil Florida's latest tourism numbers and he used the Florida Aquarium as the backdrop to his announcement.

Scott said an estimated 60.7 million tourists came to Florida during the first six months of the year. That's a 4.1 percent increase over the same time period in 2016.

An analysis reveals that the increase is due mostly to a growing number of visitors coming from other states. But the number of tourists coming from overseas countries and Canada has gone down slightly.

While in Toronto for meetings last month with travel-industry leaders, Visit Florida President and CEO Ken Lawson acknowledged that the state took the Canadian market for granted.

Canadians accounted for 3.2 million of Florida's visitors in 2016, down from more than 4 million in 2011.

During the last legislative session, Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran battled over how much taxpayer money should go toward Visit Florida, the organization in charge of promoting tourism.

In the end, Visit Florida was set to receive $76 million from the state, about the same as last year.

As a reporter, my goal is to tell a story that moves you in some way. To me, the best way to do that begins with listening. Talking to people about their lives and the issues they care about is my favorite part of the job.
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