The TaxWatch Research Blog

The TaxWatch Research Blog is a forum where our research staff can address topics and issues in a short format. Keep an eye on this space during Legislative Session for frequent posts making sense of the activity at the Capitol. 

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VISIT FLORIDA Extended When we Need it Most

VISIT FLORIDA is the state’s destination marketing organization that advertises Florida as the prime tourist destination that it is. The organization and its 12,000 tourism industry partners engage in cooperative advertising campaigns, promotional programs, and many other ventures. While many larger theme parks and attractions may have their own marketing to bring in visitors, VISIT FLORIDA contributes monumentally to small businesses that otherwise would not have the funding to advertise Florida’s unique and hidden destinations. And not just that, but also according to the Florida Legislature’s Chief Economist, every $1 invested in VISIT FLORIDA yields a $2.15 return on investment to Florida’s taxpayers.

Families across the world choose Florida as their vacation destination every year. In 2018, 127 million visitors came to Florida, an 8th consecutive year of record visitation. And with every 81 visitors supporting one Florida job[1], it is critical that Florida’s tourism industry continues to boom. Also, as global tourism remains increasingly competitive, it remains imperative that Florida invest in its myriad of natural beauty, ethnically and culturally diverse cities, theme parks and attractions, sports, and recreational opportunities, and more.

VISIT FLORIDA is necessary to provide strong leadership throughout the state’s tourism industry, especially in times where external events are causing a massive impact. Visitor behavior has been affected in the past from hurricanes, the Zika virus, algae blooms in the St. Lucie River, and changes in federal immigration policy. It is certain that the current impacts of COVID-19 will have drastic effects on the tourism industry, making it even more important for VISIT FLORIDA and its thousands of industry partners to craft a strategy to sustain Florida's market share and remain competitive in the future.

In the most recent legislative session VISIT FLORIDA’s future was uncertain. SB 362 extended its life for three more years and set its funding at $50 million. The extension that VISIT FLORIDA received is vital to Florida’s tourism industry and comes when we need it most due to the COVID-19 impacts on the state’s economy. Other states that have reduced or eliminated their tourism marketing efforts have experienced immediate and long-term negative economic impacts. Florida TaxWatch research has shown that continuous, targeted investment into Florida’s tourism industry is critical to our state’s success.

[1] VISIT FLORIDA “Tourism is Vital in Florida.” PDF File.

Author: Kirby Allen
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