Florida tourism numbers up for 2011


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida's tourism agency says a record 85.9 million people visited the state last year.

Visit Florida said Thursday that the estimated total was a 4.4 percent increase over 2010 and the highest number since 2007.

The number shows Florida tourism -- the state's leading industry -- has rebounded from a crippling recession and 2010 oil spill that kept visitors away from its beaches and attractions. The increases in Florida outpace the rest of the country.

Officials said the rebound was helped by large increases in visitors from Brazil and a dramatic turnaround by the Panhandle beaches in the first full year after the oil spill.

Visit Florida said estimates show a 3-percent increase in domestic visitors, a 5.7-percent increase in Canadian visitors and a 16-percent increase in overseas visitors.