Less than a year after the last struggle to keep Visit
Florida's budget at a level the organization and Gov. Rick Scott deemed
necessary to keep it effective, a battle for its next fiscal budget (taking
effect July 1) is underway.
Scott has called for a $100 million budget for Visit
Florida, while the House of Representatives wants to keep it at $76 million -- matching
its current budget -- and the Senate wants to cut it to $50 million.
"Visit Florida is very important to the state; 1.4 million
jobs are tied into tourism," Scott said Wednesday. "We just went
through a devastating hurricane season. We've got to continue to market our
He added, "What we've seen is that as we invest more
money into Visit Florida, we get more tourists. Every 76 tourists is another
job in our state. I want to continue to invest, and so I'm working through the
House and the Senate to make sure that happens."
His comments echo the plea from Visit Florida's CEO Ken
Lawson, who last week said to members, "This $26 million cut would do
irreparable harm to Visit Florida, Florida's tourism industry and your
business. If our funding is cut by more than a third, we will not be able to
provide many of the services, programs and marketing co-ops that our partners
like you depend on."
Lawson urged the state's tourism industry to contact their
legislative leaders to ensure Visit Florida is fully funded. Lawmakers have
until March 9 to reach an agreement on the state budget, including Visit
Florida funding, for the new fiscal year.
Source: Meetings & Conventions