Tampa International Airport sees growth in international travelers after tripling non-stop flights

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Hillsborough County officials say the number of international travelers has nearly doubled in a year.

According to the Hillsborough County Economic Development Department, the annual change in airport activity for international passengers increased 98 percent from January 2022 compared to January 2023.

It’s a stark contrast to airport activity for domestic passengers, which is only changing 15 percent annually.

“We recognize a lot of things here that we found in Europe,” said Jessie Rackley. “We love to stay and we’d love to retire here, so we’ll see.”

There has been a significant increase in international travel since the US lifted its negative COVID test requirements last June.

“We experienced Italy and Europe very differently than Florida during COVID,” Rackley said. “So it was really fun to come here and finally be able to breathe deeply.”

Travel agencies have also said that Tampa is still considered an affordable place to visit.

“We’re still at the point where it’s not too expensive to stay here,” said Chelsea Rabeiro, founder of Chelax Adventures.

“Tampa is such a good, prime location to see everything and do everything,” Rabeiro said. “You have Disney within an hour or so. Tampa is a city that thrives on good things to do.”

Tampa International Airport has tripled the number of non-stop flights to international destinations in the last 12 years, and there are ongoing efforts to encourage airlines to add more.

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