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Florida tourism breaks last years records
PENSACOLA BEACH - A new report from Governor Rick Scott shows Florida broke some tourism records last year.
More than 97 million people came to visit the state, that's up 3.5% from 2012. It's good news for Florida workers because more tourists mean more jobs. Travel-related jobs were up nearly 3% in 2013 with more than a million people working in the industry.
Spring Break is about a month away on Pensacola Beach and people are getting ready for another busy season"
"We're only out here for a few hours, but we'll soak up as much of the Florida sun and sand that we can" said Amy Emerson, Visiting from Nashville.
Amy Emerson grew up in Pensacola, but moved to Nashville. Now, every chance she gets, she brings her boys to the beach.
"I just can't wait to get my feet back in the sand, there's just nothing like the sand at these beaches. What about you guys? 'It's fun" said Emerson.
Tourism numbers are up statewide breaking previous records. Tourism was so successful in Escambia County last year, the county has more bed tax revenue than expected, a surplus of $2.8 million dollars. Some of that money will be used for advertising to attract even more people to Northwest Florida.
"This is incredible, incredible weather for us" said Mike Ustick, visiting from Chicago.
Considering snow covers the ground at Mike Ustick's home in Chicago, spending a little time and money here is what he calls paradise.
"I think it's the proximity of it, the beauty of it, and people are getting more familiar with it" said Ustick.
While last year was record breaking, there is good reason to expect even more this year.
"Because of all the budget cuts last year, they didn't show up. It's going to be huge this year, mainly because people have in the back of their minds, if the government does this again, we may never see them again on Pensacola Beach" said Buck Lee, Executive Director of Santa Rosa Island Authority.
The Blue Angels are slated to return for a summer airshow, and it is expected to bring in thousands of people.