Visits to the state of Florida rose in the third quarter of 2010 despite the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The state's official tourism marketing corporation said Tuesday that 18.9 million travelers visited the state from July to September, an increase of 0.6 percent from the same period in 2009.
These results continue to prove the resilience of Florida's tourism brand and spotlight the importance of this vital industry to the state's rebounding economy, said Ed Fouch, chairman of the Visit Florida board of directors and senior vice president of travel industry sales for Disney Destinations.
The state has sought to fight off negative perceptions arising from the spill. The spill impacted only a small portion Florida's western panhandle. Some tarballs had washed up on the coast and some oil sheen had been observed, but oil did not make its way southward.
Overseas visitors in the third quarter rose by 17.4 percent and Canadian visitors were up 23 percent compared with 2009, the company said.
However, tourists from within the U.S. were down 1.6 percent.
A survey with a small sample size in June by Visit Florida found that about 10 percent of people were considering changing their travel plans. The company, which received some money from BP, said visits to the company's website were up at the time. Even President Obama and his family vacationed in the state in August to help promote tourism.
Chris Thompson, president and CEO of the company, said it was not surprising domestic visits fell given what the tourism industry faced this summer.
He said he was encouraged by overseas and Canadian visits.
Meanwhile, Florida's tourism-related employment was up 0.8 percent compared to the same period in 2009, the company said.