Florida Seaports Set Another Record-High in Growth of Cargo in 2023
Florida - Thursday February 1, 2024: For the second year in a row, Florida’s system of public seaports experienced record-high cargo growth, and set a new record-high number of cruise passenger embarkations.
A report from the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council (FSTED) released on Wednesday shows that in 2023 Florida’s system of seaports handled 114.25 million tons of cargo, breaking the 2022 record-high of 112.5 million tons of cargo moved. That was a 1.5 percent year-over-year growth rate.
“The entire world knows that if you want to move cargo efficiently and effectively, you need to use Florida’s ports,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “While other states like California have continued to experience supply chain disruptions in the past year due to mismanagement, Florida is setting new records. The Sunshine State continues to be America’s supply chain solution.”
Additionally, the report shows why Florida is the cruise capital of the world. In 2023, the total number of cruise passengers across all Florida seaports reached a new record high of 19.4 million, marking a 3.1 percent compound annual growth rate since 2010. This figure represents an increase of more than one million additional passengers over 2019 levels, the previous record year.
“When California’s inefficient seaports were backlogged and threatening to be the grinch that stole Christmas, it was Florida’s system of seaports that came to the rescue. Thanks to past investments, our ports were ready to handle the largest of ships and the cargo they carry when America needed us most,” said Mike Rubin, President and CEO, Florida Ports Council.
But Florida’s record-breaking cargo growth, and the highly competitive nature of international trade, has put a bullseye on Florida, with neighboring states like Georgia and Texas taking strategic steps to encroach on Florida’s market share.
“Continued bold investments will help ensure Florida’s system of seaports can further strengthen its position on the global trade hub stage, and ensure our state’s facilities remain attractive for even more East-West, North-South trade,” Rubin added.
Florida’s 16 public seaports have identified over $5 billion of investments through their Capital Improvement Plans (CIP) for the period beginning in 2024 and running through 2028. These investments will shore up dock rehabilitation, increase port capacity, support cargo container handling cranes, improve connectivity, relieve congestion, and more.
Florida seaport directors and leaders are at Florida’s Capitol today for Seaport Day at the Capitol, and sharing the important message that now is the time to “seas the opportunities” to prevent Florida from being bumped off the international trade hub stage.
Additionally, Port Directors from Florida’s largest seaports will meet face-to-face with maritime decision makers during TPM2024 – the premier conference for international container shipping on March 3-6 in Long Beach, CA. These one-on-one conversations have been instrumental in securing new shipping lines and increased cargo calling on Florida.
- Florida is a top maritime trade state, and home to the world’s largest cruise ports.
- Cargo and cruise activities support:
- 900,000 Direct and Indirect Jobs
- $117.6 Billion in Economic Value
- 13.3% of Florida’s GDP
- 10 ports handled cargo in 2023.
- 8 ports facilitated passenger movements via cruise ship, ferry, and/or a day-cruise vessels in 2023.
- Florida is a global hub for mega yachts (superyachts) for extended marina stays, and increasingly, for maintenance.
- Florida has 20 Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZs)
- In 2024, Florida is expected to handle nearly 60 percent of all U.S. cruise passenger embarkations.