Discover The Palm Beaches (DTPB), the tourism marketing organization for Palm Beach County, announced record-breaking visitation numbers for 2018. DTPB’s year-end hotel performance data shows 8.02 million visitors came to The Palm Beaches from January to December, which increased 1.7% over 2017 and marked ten years in a row of visitation growth to the destination. The visitation generated a record-high $7.4 billion in economic impact to the area, supporting more than 70,000 jobs in Palm Beach County.
International visitors increased by half a percent to 749,000, with notable growth from the UK (growing 9% to 39,000 visitors), Brazil (growing 3% to 29,000 visitors), and Colombia (growing 5% to 22,000 visitors). Domestic visitation grew 1.2% to nearly 4.5 million visitors from outside Florida. Visits originating within Florida grew 2.8% to 2.8 million visits, with Orlando showing the strongest growth with a 13% increase for the year.
“It’s clear that tourism’s continued growth speaks volumes about Palm Beach County’s core strengths and traditions in the hospitality arena, but rest assured that the best is yet to come. We’re thrilled to see ten consecutive years of increasing visitation – and thankful that our community engagement with tourism partners and the resources provided by the county have helped us reach new heights,” said Jorge Pesquera, president and CEO for DTPB. “As we promote this exceptional destination to a global audience, we will continue to deliver results and lasting prosperity. We are now able to entice decision makers to invest boldly in new hotels, attractions and activities that put people to work and enhance our quality of life.”
Important drivers of 2018’s visitation growth include the expanding meetings and conventions market, a strengthened marketing plan and positive press exposure for the destination. In February 2019, DTPB announced that it launched new marketing and leisure sales representation in five international markets: Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Germany and Mexico – in addition to the company’s existing representation in Brazil and England – with the purpose of increasing visitation from these countries into the destination.
“We are building long-term economic strength for the future of Palm Beach County, and the continued growth in visitation shows that our collaborative tourism strategic efforts are working,” explained Glenn Jergensen, executive director for the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council (TDC). “The Palm Beaches are on an unprecedented trend of leisure, arts/culture, sports and meetings/convention tourism successes, and we’re aiming to become a year-round travel destination.”
“Discover The Palm Beaches and Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council agencies promoting sports, cultural and film/television-related visitations are collectively positioning The Palm Beaches as a highly desirable, multifaceted destination. Record-high meetings and convention sales also reaffirm the tremendous opportunities in that market, and the need for additional hotel inventory and convention infrastructure,” said Mary Lou Berger, Palm Beach County Commissioner and Chair of the TDC. “The area’s iconic reputation, vibrant culture, beautiful cities and remarkable venues have put this destination on the map. Thanks to the 70,000 tourism industry employees who deliver our welcoming hospitality, it continues to be a place where visitors want to return, time and time again.”