Florida domestic tourism returns, international market lags

Aug 19, 2021, 9:30 AM | Updated: 10:13 am
FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, file photo, a masked family walks past Cinderella Castle in t...

FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, file photo, a masked family walks past Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Walt Disney World is tweaking its face mask policy. Starting Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, the theme park resort in Florida will allow visitors to chose whether or not to wear face coverings in outdoor lines, outdoor theatres and outdoor attractions. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

(Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The number of U.S. tourists who came to Florida in the second quarter of this year has returned to pre-pandemic levels, though the international market is still lagging, according to figures released Thursday.

About 30.6 million domestic visitors came to Florida from April through June of this year, a 6% increase over the same time in 2019, and a 216% jump from the same time last year during the height of COVID-19 pandemic closures, Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing firm, said in a news release.

Overall, Florida had 31.4 million visitors in the second quarter of this year, an increase of 220% from the same period a year earlier.

Florida’s international market has not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels due to restrictions on entering the U.S. Florida welcomed only 1.1 million visitors from overseas and Canada in the second quarter of this year, compared to 3.5 million visitors in the second quarter of 2019.

During the spring of 2020, Florida’s major theme parks and hotels around the state were either shuttered or had limited operations due to the pandemic. The theme parks reopened more than a year ago but with mask requirements, attendance limitations and social distancing. Many of those restrictions were loosened earlier this year.

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Florida domestic tourism returns, international market lags