Visit Florida is not ready to wave the white flag. "We need your help," said the agency's president and CEO Dana Young in an announcement. "Call your local legislators and let them know that the Florida House needs to take up and pass SB 178. Also, both chambers should fully fund Visit Florida at $76 million."
Young's request follows state lawmakers moving one step closer on Tuesday to closing the curtains on Florida's destination marketing organization for good. As the Senate continues hammering out the details of a $90 billion spending plan, officials say there's no need to renew Visit Florida funding unless the House accepts the Senate-approved bill (178) that would extend the CVB's lifespan. So far, the House hasn't budged.
Under state law, Visit Florida will operate through Sept. 30. Without the bill passing, the agency will cease to exist beyond that point.
Young said moving to end Visit Florida would hurt the state and points to Colorado as an example. In 1993, that state cut its then-$12 million marketing program and, according to one study, ultimately lost billions of dollars in revenue. Colorado reversed course in 2000 and began reinvesting in tourism.
"Too many jobs rely on tourism for the Legislature to risk the success of the tourism industry," Young said. "We are hopeful that Visit Florida will continue to be able to offer cutting-edge marketing programs and the exclusive partner benefits that help your business and communities."
House leaders have attacked past spending by Visit Florida, while dismissing concerns that Florida’s tourism figures would be impacted without the agency’s promotional efforts. Still, Young, a former state lawmaker, said the fight for Visit Florida isn’t over yet.
The agency has been posting a number of advocacy videos, like the one above, on its website, and has reported eight years of record tourism numbers, topped by 126.1 million visitors in 2018.