Florida Tourism Increases Slightly

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Florida's tourism industry increased three percent in 2004, despite being battered by four successive hurricanes.

More than 76.8 million people visited Florida in 2004, according to preliminary data released Monday by Visit Florida, the state's tourism promotion agency.

Taxable spending by tourists in 2004 was on target to surpass the $51.5 billion spent in 2003. Tourists spent an estimated $51.8 billion between January and November 2004. Complete figures for the year are not yet available.

State tourism officials concede that the increase in the visitor count would have likely been higher had it not been for the hurricanes, which were blamed for a four percent decline in tourism in the third quarter of 2004.