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 and Enterprise Florida are essential to Florida's tourism economy

Year after year, families across the nation and the world choose Florida as their top vacation destination. As the Sunshine State, it is not hard to see why. When you consider tourist attractions like Miami Beach, Walt Disney World, Clearwater, the World Golf Hall of Fame, the Florida Keys, Universal Studios and Sea World, not to mention an expanding economy with a steady supply of jobs, Florida seems to have it all.

Much of Florida’s success can be attributed to two critical public-private partnerships — Visit Florida, the state’s destination marketing organization, and Enterprise Florida, the state’s principal economic-development organization.

Visit Florida and its 12,000 tourism industry partners engage in cooperative advertising campaigns, promotional programs and many other ventures. Enterprise Florida works closely with a statewide network of economic-development partners to expand and diversify the state’s economy through job creation.

For many years, Florida TaxWatch research has supported investment in the state’s tourism industry and economic development. Attracting new businesses and tourists will continue to get more and more competitive by the year, and since tourism and economic development play a major role in Florida’s economic strength, it is imperative that the Legislature continues to invest in Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida so the state can successfully compete against others, primarily California and Texas.

In recent years, the two organizations have come under fire from members of the Florida Legislature. Some legislators question whether these programs are a wise investment or an appropriate use of public funds, and that visitors and businesses will come to Florida with or without them.

Other legislators question the lack of transparency and accountability surrounding the programs’ business operations. Visit Florida sunsets on October 1, 2019, and the Senate is advancing a bill to extend the program. The House is not. The two budgets reflect this, as the Senate provides $16 million for Enterprise Florida and $50 million for Visit Florida. The House does not fund Enterprise Florida and gives Visit Florida just $19 million to fund until October.

Florida TaxWatch fully supports sound governance and responsible oversight. However, with a budget that will likely exceed $90 billion, surely the Legislature can find more substantive ways to protect taxpayers’ hard-earned money than dismantling these highly effective partnerships that are clearly getting tremendous results for Floridians.

States that previously cut or eliminated their investment in economic development and travel promotion experienced immediate and long-term negative economic impacts. Destinations that fail to invest consistently in tourism and attracting new businesses will see visitors, jobs and tax revenues go elsewhere. And quite frankly, Florida cannot afford that sort of decline.

No other state has the resources, infrastructure, natural and man-made attractions that the Sunshine State does. Dismantling Visit Florida and Enterprise Floirda will cost hardworking taxpayers many times more in jobs and income.

Florida TaxWatch research has shown time and time again that Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida have a substantial positive return on investment and continue to contribute to the state’s economy and job market. Diversifying the economy is important, and tourism and economic development are key parts of Florida’s success and competitive edge.

The Legislature should continue to invest in Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida to ensure that Florida is a premier destination for businesses and tourists throughout the nation and the world.

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