Florida is one of the top tourist destinations in the United States, welcoming over 137 million visitors in 2022 alone. The sunshine state’s beautiful beaches, theme parks, and warm weather attract tourists nationwide and worldwide.
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This high influx of visitors significantly impacts many local industries in Florida, including the auto industry. With so many tourists renting cars and needing repairs or maintenance while traveling through the state, Florida’s booming tourism industry directly affects auto dealerships and service centers.

Rise in Rental Car Demand

One of the most significant impacts of Florida’s tourism on auto dealerships is the increased demand for rental cars. According to Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing corporation, over 34 million rental car transactions took place in 2021, accounting for 27% of all domestic car rental transactions in the US.
With tourists flocking to popular destinations like Orlando, Miami, Key West, and more, rental car companies must supply a vast fleet of vehicles to meet demand. For example, Sixt Rent-A-Car reported a 30% rise in Florida reservations from 2019 to 2021. This equates to thousands of additional cars that must be purchased from local auto dealerships like AutoNation and others with a presence in the state.
Beyond simply selling more inventory, auto dealers also make deals with rental car companies to buy back used rental vehicles. These tourism rentals put more wear and tear on cars, so dealerships strike up unique partnerships to buy back used fleet vehicles, recondition them, and resell them to retail buyers.

Boom for Service Centers

With so many tourists renting cars and driving long distances, Florida auto dealerships with service departments also benefit. Visitors traveling far from home are much more likely to need repairs or maintenance while operating rental cars in an unfamiliar area.

Therefore, dealerships across Florida have seen increased demand for their auto service and repair facilities. Data from AAA reveals that roadside assistance calls jumped 12% statewide from 2020 to 2021. Many of these calls come from confused tourists dealing with a flat tire, dead battery, or other common issues in their rental car. Even routine maintenance like oil changes is needed more often with so many extra rental cars on the road.

Dealerships build trust and goodwill with tourists by providing quality service and repairs for these stranded motorists. Some service departments offer perks like complimentary car washes or inspections to impress out-of-town customers. Capitalizing on the influx of confused tourists with rental cars needing unplanned work has become a meaningful way for Florida dealerships to grow their service revenue.

Higher Demand for Luxury Vehicles

In addition to increased servicing and rentals, Florida auto dealerships are also experiencing a rise in luxury vehicle purchases, especially convertibles,  due to tourism. Visitors from affluent states and countries flock to high-end beach destinations and attractions across Florida. In 2021, the state saw significant growth in international tourism, welcoming travelers from Canada, Latin America, Europe, and beyond.

These wealthy tourists help drive demand for luxury auto sales in Florida. Premium brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Lexus have experienced double-digit sales growth in recent years at dealerships across the Sunshine State. Coastal metro areas known for their upscale amenities and activities, like Miami, Tampa, Naples, and Jacksonville, have significantly benefited from catering to affluent buyers.

For example, Audi Fort Myers reported a 16% rise in sales in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic years. Other dealerships have expanded their luxury offerings and services, such as complimentary car washes and appointments with brand ambassadors, to better appeal to their elite international clientele. Providing VIP treatment and an indulgent experience has become a vital part of the business strategy for high-end Florida auto dealerships seeking to attract vacationing luxury buyers.

More Test Drives and Impulse Purchases

The temperate climate and abundance of open roads create an ideal setting for test drives in Florida. For this reason, dealerships often position themselves along major tourism corridors to capture the attention of potential buyers. Interestingly, an impromptu test drive while on vacation can quickly transform into an unplanned purchase. According to statistics from 2022, impulse buys accounted for over 20% of auto sales in the state, surpassing the national average of 14%.

On the other hand, tourists might begin their trip without any intention of buying a car. Nevertheless, the intoxicating blend of vacation excitement and persuasive sales techniques frequently convinces them to make an impulsive decision. To capitalize on this trend, many dealerships have begun advertising in tourism-focused outlets. Specifically, you’ll find ads from auto dealers in tourism magazines and even hotel lobbies, all aimed at enticing these impulse buyers. Overall, the strategic location of dealerships and targeted advertising are critical elements in capturing the lucrative impulse-buyer market in Florida.


Florida’s tourism boom creates lucrative opportunities for auto dealers through increased rentals, repairs, luxury sales, and impulse purchases. Capitalizing on vacation travelers has become a key part of the business strategy for dealers across the Sunshine State.


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