by Lisa A. Grimaldi | March 29, 2017
Yesterday, the Florida Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee proposed backing Gov. Rick Scott's request made earlier this year for a $76 million budget for Visit Florida, according to the Orlando Sentinel.  
 
Earlier this month, the Florida House -- after initially threatening to eliminate Visit Florida altogether following revelations that the agency created controversial million-dollar marketing campaigns with hip-hop artist Pitbull, London-based Fulham Football Club and an International Motor Sports Association racing team -- passed HB 9, a bill to lower Visit Florida's budget to $25 million, cap salaries at the agency and increase transparency of the DMO's spending. At  that time, Visit Florida's president and CEO Ken Lawson noted, "As I have said many times, we believe in transparency and accountability at Visit Florida. However, the bill passed by the Florida House of Representatives would limit Visit Florida's ability to successfully market our state."
 
The respective House and Senate budget proposals are the initial steps prior to lawmakers' negotiations to ratify the state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
 
Gov. Rick Scott, a strong proponent of Visit Florida, has credited increased funding to the DMO since he took office with increased tourism to the Sunshine State. According to Visit Florida, the state attracted more than 112.8 million visitors in 2016, up from 87.3 million in 2011.