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Nancy Smith

Lawmakers, Heed DeSantis' Resolute Commitment to VISIT FLORIDA

April 16, 2019 - 9:00am
Ron DeSantis highlights tourism in Tampa
Ron DeSantis highlights tourism in Tampa

Gov. Ron DeSantis looks in no hurry to sunset VISIT FLORIDA for good. Mercifully. Let's hope his strong support will end any further discussion to shutter the state's busy and effective tourism agency. And, instead, fund it the full $76 million that's helped make it the envy of every state in the nation.

VISIT FLORIDA is one of the Sunshine State's best assets, and always has been.

The governor made the point Monday by visiting Tampa International Airport, putting his support into words and discussing the benefits that tourism provides Florida. Joining DeSantis was VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO Dana Young, Enterprise Florida President and CEO Jamal Sowell, state and community leaders and representatives from Tampa International Airport, including the airport's CEO, Joe Lopano.

“I was happy to visit Tampa International Airport to discuss the role tourism plays in generating economic development to Florida,” DeSantis said after the event. “This industry has never been stronger, and the benefits of tourism to our state are shared by every Floridian. We have so much going for us here ... so we must continue to invest in bringing people here to enjoy everything we have to offer.”

The state had an all-time record of 126.1 million visitors in 2018, a 6.2 percent increase from the previous record of 118.8 million visitors in 2017. This marked the eighth consecutive record year for visitation to Florida. VISIT FLORIDA and DeSantis also announced Monday that tourism to the state saves each Florida family more than $1,500 annually.

Consider the string of bad press Florida has endured in recent years: from the Pulse nightclub massacre to the Zika virus, from algae and red tide to massive, coast-devastating hurricanes. Yet, the state's tourism still cranks out winning marketing programs and VISIT FLORIDA's numbers still rise.

According to The Economic Impact of Out-of-State Visitors in Florida, released last year by Tourism Economics, in 2016, out-of-state tourism generated $11.6 billion in state and local taxes. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there were more than 7.5 million Florida households from 2013 to 2017. This equates to that annual tax savings of $1,549 per household which the governor highlighted Monday.

Investing in the Florida tourism industry, particularly international tourism, plays a significant role in generating economic development to the state, with Tampa International Airport being an integral partner, DeSantis said.

VISIT FLORIDA chief Dana Young said, “This Tax Day, we are proud to highlight the critical economic role that tourism plays in Florida, and how every household in Florida benefits from out-of-state visitation. Saving $1,549 in taxes is a great deal for Floridians and something the tourism industry is proud to generate. At VISIT FLORIDA, our job is to enhance and protect this vital industry and revenue source."

Since the airport began working to bring new international flights to Florida in 2012, it is estimated that international passengers visiting the Tampa Bay area have  poured more than $1.3 billion into Florida’s economy. In addition, the growth of international passengers has generated in excess of $88 million in tax revenue and has supported nearly 18,000 jobs in the Tampa Bay region alone.

Young made one more pitch to skeptical legislators. "The Florida Legislature shouldn’t cut VISIT FLORIDA’s budget and risk a significant drop in tourism dollars," Young said. "VISIT FLORIDA fully funded at $76 million is a smart investment. A cut in funding could place a heavier tax burden on Florida citizens and strain state budget revenue. The Legislature should reauthorize and fully fund VISIT FLORIDA at $76 million.”

In 2018 Roger Dow, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Travel Association, told Sunshine State News Florida’s tourism numbers continue to make it stand out from all other tourist destinations in the country. Dow, a Florida resident, attributed part of the state’s success to the ease of getting here and the continued expansion of air service into major airports.

“Florida has become the darling for the travel industry around not only the U.S., but the world,” Dow said. “They’re hitting on all cylinders.” He said VISIT FLORIDA was "second to none" as a state tourism marketing arm.

The Senate backs SB 178, seeking to fund with an eight-year sunset date the Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corp., which does business as Visit Florida. Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Rockledge, added the sunset provision last week, saying she believes all such programs should include the provision and will address a sunset review policy later. Senators think setting such a date would likely require the VISIT FLORIDA to be reauthorized later on. House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, argues the tourism agency’s funding should last only until the agency’s legal authorization runs out, which is scheduled for Oct. 1. Then, he has said, the agency as a separate entity can die.

The Governor's Office believes that in the end, the House will negotiate. Let's hope so. 

Florida's got a Rolex. Why on earth would we want to take it apart? Gov. DeSantis showed Monday he gets it.

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith.

Comments

Who has that $76 million marketing contract? Are you kidding me? Until you can show me that this $76 Million, not $7.6 million, but $76 million is directly attributable to the growth in tourism, I cannot see supporting this kind of cash for marketing. The Sea World's, Disney, luxury waterfront hotel chains, sports teams and beachfront cities are long overdue to help pitch in for their own advertising campaigns, instead of being subsidized to the tune of $76 million tax payer dollars, so they can pocket their ad budgets. There is no way to gauge a return on investment w/o real numbers based on expenses. Take it away for a year and see how FL does, if we don't have a record year like I'm betting we will anyway, then you can bring it back on an targeted basis that shows a direct positive impact dollar for dollar. It's time for these rich corporations to pony up their fair share for marketing folks, instead of taking our tax dollars for free advertising...

It appears that your question has been answered, take a look at this article, http://sunshinestatenews.com/story/green-slime-deliveries-legislature-highlight-need-visit-florida-funding>>>>CR>>Green Slime Deliveries to Legislature Highlight Need for VISIT FLORIDA Funding By Sunshine State News April 17, 2019 - 12:15am Robert Skrob Robert Skrob The Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations (FADMO) delivered “green slime” (gooey, green glow-in-the-dark putty) Wednesday to Florida’s legislators with a clear message -- reauthorize and fully fund VISIT FLORIDA. The green slime was delivered to shine a light on the negative media potential visitors might hear about Florida and how misperceptions directly impact our state’s economy by driving visitors away. Without an agency like VISIT FLORIDA fighting these misperceptions, many visitors will assume the worst and choose a destination other than Florida, FADMO believes. “Out-of-state visitors have many choices when it comes to their destinations and our economy depends on them choosing Florida,” said Robert Skrob, executive director of the organization. “When potential visitors see images and negative headlines about Florida, whether it’s about green slime-covered waterways, fish kills from red algae or damage from hurricanes, it drives traffic away from Florida’s world-class destinations and toward other states that are actively funding their tourism advertising and marketing programs. VISIT FLORIDA is championing Florida and showing potential visitors that Florida is open for business.” The impact of Florida’s tourism industry is undeniable. More than a fifth of all the sales tax revenue generated in Florida is attributed to tourism. This $112 million industry funds a significant portion of the state’s budget and puts 1.4 million people to work. FADMO asks legislators to consider -- Every one dollar invested in VISIT FLORIDA yields a $2.15 return on investment Visitors save every Florida household $1,549 each year in taxes Every 78 visitors help create one Florida job “We have heard from countless small business owners who rely on tourism to survive and their stories are all similar in that they can’t afford to market to out-of-state visors without the help of the local and state programs VISIT FLORIDA provides,” said Skrob. “When we empower VISIT FLORIDA to champion our state, we also allow them to champion small businesses and job creation. We encourage the Florida Legislature top reauthorize and fully funding VISIT FLORIDA.” #Add new comment#ask Robert Skrob

Florida needs to stop recruiting warm bodies and perfect what it already has! "Balance" would be preferable to "growth"!

The state had an all-time record of 126.1 million visitors in 2018, a 6.2 percent increase from the previous record of 118.8 million visitors in 2017. This marked the eighth consecutive record year for visitation to Florida. VISIT FLORIDA and DeSantis also announced Monday that tourism to the state saves each Florida family more than $1,500 annually. Consider the string of bad press Florida has endured in recent years: from the Pulse nightclub massacre to the Zika virus, from algae and red tide to massive, coast-devastating hurricanes (add to this list the medical marijuana no-smoke fiasco and the recent buffonery for 10% cap on THC, one has to wonder, is visiting Florida a chance to go backwards in time). Yet, the state's tourism still cranks out winning marketing programs and VISIT FLORIDA's numbers still rise.

My man Bill: . All the negative subject matter you brought up in your comment above is of great concern only to the fake news media and the small minority of liberals in the world that believe in the madness the fake news media pumps out. I'm not saying all that stuff did not happen. I'm just informing you those things play a zero factor in the majority of the citizens of the world's vacation destination choices. You may want to re-evauluate the way you look at the world and the subsequent decisions you make. #walkaway

Could you point me the right direction, from where do you get your non-fake news? Are you certain you have an accurate pulse what most Americans are thinking?

Yes, Bill, he is certain, and so am I. We get our news from FAR DIFFERENT sources than you do. In fact, we sit back in our chairs and wonder how you can sit in your living room every night and let the MSM feed you "FAKE NEWS" they have to apologize for every time they turn around. We the PEOPLE, KNOW what is happening. You choose to BELIEVE THE MSM whose opinions are aimed at keeping you one of the SHEEPLE who blindly follow them RIGHT OFF THE CLIFF. Keep doing it, and you will soon see...AND IT WON'T BE LONG NOW EITHER.

It would be nice if either one of you had posted some links from where you get your news.#Thanks

Comments are now closed.

nancy smith
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