VisitFlorida, the state’s tourism marketing arm, may be gone in a few months. Yesterday a budget proposal in the state Senate was agree upon that, like the House, would only fund the agency through the end of September.
Dan Rowe is the Executive Director of the Bay County Tourist Development Council, “We do not have a state income tax largely because of visitor spending” Rowe said.
Florida welcomed more than 126 million visitors last year. On the VisitFlorida website, they cite an Office of Economic and Demographic Research study that found for every $1 the state invests in VisitFlorida, $2.15 in tax revenue is generated.
“In Bay County, you know right now we are still reeling with the impacts of Michael. VisitFlorida was able to step up with some emergency funding to allow us to continue to tell our story” Rowe told News13.
But there have been questions about how visitflorida was spending money. Million dollar endorsements and more than $11 million paid to sponsor one cooking show.
Rowe believes those problems have been rectified. “You know, that was over 4 years ago. That has been addressed by the legislature… the VisitFlorida of today is a very efficient, transparent organization that is focused on marketing.”
If the legislature does not act soon, VisitFlorida shuts down October 1st. Gov. DeSantis wants about $76 million for the nonprofit organization. The senate has proposed $50 million. But none of that is guaranteed.
Time is getting short for a final decision. The last day of regular session is May 3rd. And that is next Friday.