A record-breaking 3.9 million people visited Palm Beach County during the half of the year, marking the highest tourism count ever recorded from January to June, even as local tourism officials went into crisis mode this summer to counter the perception that blue-green algae had blanketed the county’s coastline.
Discover The Palm Beaches, the county’s official tourism marketing organization, said countywide hotel occupancy levels for the month of July were at an all-time high – reaching 71.9 percent.
The county is on pace to beat last year’s record breaking level of 6.9 million visitors. Discover officials said they expect 7.2 million tourists to travel here in 2016 – an increase of 4.3 percent over last year’s level.
This month, Gov. Rick Scott announced the state set a tourism record for the first six months of the year, with 57.4 million visitors flocking to Florida.
The record-breaking levels comes on the heels of a difficult summer for the state’s tourism industry, which includes a Zika outbreak in Miami Dade County.
Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday that five cases of locally acquired Zika virus have been confirmed in Miami Beach.
Miami Dade County has two locations verified to have Zika-infected mosquitoes.
The state announced on Aug. 8 that a Palm Beach County resident is among those who have acquired the virus locally. The infected person recently traveled to Miami Dade County, ground zero for the outbreak of Zika acquired through domestic mosquitoes.
In June, a gay nightclub in Orlando, the state’s top travel hub, was the scene of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. The following week, an alligator killed a toddler at the Walt Disney World resort.
Jorge Pesquera, Discover’s president and CEO, attributed the county’s record-setting tourism levels to the organization’s marketing efforts as well as the region’s attractions and cultural offerings.
“Visitors continue to discover why The Palm Beaches are the best way to experience Florida,” Pesquera said. “Discover The Palm Beaches continues to promote marketing messages and content that touts the number of ‘best in class’ experiences offered by our large and diverse destination. Best in class hotels, beaches, golf, culture, fishing, diving, nature, dining and equestrian events are just some of the amazing attributes available in our 2500 square miles. It’s no wonder more people are looking to discover the destination.”