From May 1-7, the US Travel Association encourages the country to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week to show how tourism impacts local communities.
Jacksonville has a lot to celebrate this year! As our city continues to emerge from the pandemic, Visit Jacksonville celebrates and recognizes the impact travel has on the local economy, businesses, and our community this week. The past two years have been the toughest the travel industry has ever seen, but here in Jacksonville, the recovery has exceeded our greatest expectations.
Tourism is important, and it makes Jacksonville better in ways that have a huge impact on the entire community and our economy, but most of us might not even notice it.
Travel supports more than 50,000 tourism industry jobs in Duval County – strengthening families, fostering hometown pride, and building bridges that connect us to each other. Without tourism in Jacksonville, each household would pay at least an additional $700 in taxes just to maintain current service levels in the community.
Prior to the pandemic, travel and tourism had an annual economic impact of $3.8 billion on Jacksonville, largely from the more than 22 million overnight and day trippers who visit the city every year. In 2021, we surpassed these figures by welcoming 23.3 million travelers – and 2022 is expected to grow even further. This number of people is equivalent to filling TIAA Bank Field every day of the year.
We continue to see positive signs of the return of travel every day. Over the past 12 months, hotel occupancy and room revenue collected exceeded those of the same months in 2019, which was a record year in terms of occupancy rate and room revenue. Records continued to be broken in March of this year as there were the most rooms ever sold in a single month in Duval County. Forecasts for the future show that 2022 will be the strongest year in Jacksonville tourism history.
Although most of this impact comes from outside the city, Jacksonville residents play a significant role in travel and tourism. During National Travel and Tourism Week, I urge you to set aside time to be a tourist in your own hometown – get out and explore.
Supporting tourism is more than flying to Jacksonville International Airport or staying at a local hotel. He visits attractions such as the Cummer Museum and Gardens, the Ritz Theater and Museum, Hanna Park, the Riverside Arts Market, the Fort Caroline National Memorial or the Timucuan Ecological Reserve. He attends and supports special events like the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, Porchfest, Deck the Chairs, 26.2 with Donna Marathon Weekend and the upcoming Bicentennial Celebration on June 11.
If you have out-of-town guests staying with you, be their guide and show them why you love living in Jax. Choose one or two of our unique neighborhoods like San Marco, Murray Hill, Mandarin or Springfield and spend a day exploring and dining at our local restaurants. If you’re not sure where to take your guests, VisitJacksonville.com is a great place to get ideas or stop by one of our Welcome Centers and chat with our experts. Our team is also available for live chat on our website during working hours.
Support for travel and tourism must also come from the local business community. If you attend conferences, consider Jacksonville for your next meeting or corporate convention. Bring your colleagues to our city and show them what makes Jacksonville a great place to visit. There are unique venues, many with waterfront views, that can accommodate groups of all sizes. At any time of the year, Visit Jacksonville offers promotions to motivate your group and the best part is that our services help you plan your event for free.
As we continue to look to the future, we are excited to see Jacksonville’s travel and tourism records. We live in a wonderful destination and the rest of the world takes notice. Please take the time to enjoy National Travel and Tourism Week and we look forward to seeing you in the city.
Michael Corrigan, President and CEO of Visit Jacksonville