Jacksonville’s share of the tourism market in Florida has grown every month for nearly three years.
And Tourism officials expect the growth to continue.
In June, 10,000 more people booked Jacksonville hotel rooms than in the previous June — a nearly 7 percent occupancy growth. That’s compared to just one 1/3 of 1 percent tourism growth in the U.S. as a whole.
Patty Jimenez is a spokeswoman for Visit Jacksonville, the city’s private/public tourism marketer. She said since data was first collected 10 years ago, tourism revenue has exploded.
“This is the first June since we started tracking these numbers where we have seen such growth in both number of people that come and stay at hotels in the city and the revenue that’s being made,” she said.
Jimenez said Visit Jacksonville is optimistic tourism will continue to grow in the area despite warnings from LGBT advocates for the city's failure to expand its human rights ordinance to protect all visitors, and a pension debt that threatens to cripple development and investment in infrastructure.
“I think it’s important to look at tourism not just as a fun thing that people do when they have money to spare, which it is, but we have to see it within our own community as a really, really powerful economic engine,” she said.
Jimenez also said summer is usually slower; cities with hotter climates usually get more visits in milder months.