Jacksonville Tourism Numbers Above Pre-Pandemic Levels

By Benjamin Cox on June 3, 2024 at 9:34am

National Travel and Tourism Week was celebrated May 19-May 25 throughout the country. The Jacksonville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau took a quiet approach this year, advocating for Jacksonville’s tourism sector with a small social media campaign.

Executive Director Brittany Henry says that Jacksonville’s tourism sector has bounced back beyond pre-pandemic levels, according to 2022’s numbers: “Travel expenditures in Jacksonville topped $77 million for 2022. As we are looking forward to the future, I would say our numbers…I would like to say they are going to increase. I know we have been busy. Our hotels have been busy. I would say that we are hopeful for a positive 2023. Those numbers typically come out in July or August.”

Henry says that $77 million in expenditures by local tourists accounted for $2.2 million in tax revenue generated for the Jacksonville area.

Henry says the tourism sector in Jacksonville has seen a notable increase in jobs over the last several years: “We’ve seen jobs increase over the years since I took this office. I think years ago we had a couple hundred jobs – 250-260 and got up into the 300’s. Now, we are around 430 jobs in hospitality and tourism.”

Henry says those jobs vary from gas station attendants to hotel workers and wait staff at local restaurants.

Henry says that travelers that are coming to Jacksonville, they are looking for a slower pace and not giant tourist traps that happen in major cities or with major attractions: “We are seeing more of that historical tourism piece come back that we didn’t quite see years ago. I don’t like to say things come and go, but they do. If there is anything good that came out of Covid, people are really looking at what’s in their backyards and traveling more regionally. They are not taking the big trips like they used to. They are hopping in the car and taking those more local trips to communities like ours. They want a little slower paced living when they come to visit, and that’s why I think with tourism week, we are trying to educate locals on what’s here in our own backyard.”

Henry says that the reason things were focused on a more informational side this time for National Travel & Tourism Week is because she wants the local public to know about what’s going on in the region to help navigate travelers to everything the Jacksonville area has to offer. She says a clearer picture will arrive in July or August when 2023’s travel numbers are released.