Record crowds visit Fla. in '05 despite storms

THE BALTIMORE SUN

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Despite the four hurricanes that hit Florida in both 2004 and 2005, a record-breaking 85.8 million tourists visited the state last year.

Statistics released yesterday by Visit Florida, a public-private agency, show 85.8 million visitors spent time in Florida last year - the equivalent of the combined populations of California, New York, Florida and Illinois. It was nearly 6 million more visitors, a 7.6 percent increase, over 2004.

Even Hurricane Wilma, which pounded South Florida in October, didn't dampen the numbers. The last three months of 2005 brought 16.6 million visitors to the state, a 0.7 percent increase over the same period in 2004.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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