According to a recent article published in Forbes, 2020’s busiest travel destination was Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida, hotel data shows. 

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The neighboring Florida cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg had the highest average hotel occupancy rate of any major U.S. travel market in 2020, according to global hospitality benchmarking firm STR, as Americans appeared to ditch major tourism destinations during the Covid-19 pandemic in favor of smaller cities and warmer climates more conducive to social distancing, though travel was significantly down nationwide.

At 51%, Tampa and St. Petersburg had the highest average occupancy rate between January and November of any of STR’s top 25 U.S. travel markets.

Florida “never really shut[ting] things down” likely helped Tampa’s popularity and the ability to successfully promote the travel destination without interruptions, Visit Tampa Bay CEO Santiago Corrada told Forbes, though the tourism promoter’s marketing emphasized the city’s commitment to safety and “safe, pristine, open air opportunities.”

Tampa and St. Petersburg were busier than better-known Florida destinations Miami and Orlando (which had 46.2% and 41.8% occupancy, respectively), which Corrada said was likely helped by the area not feeling “crowded” and “over-touristy to the point where you can’t enjoy yourself and feel safe.”

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