. Visit Florida Faces Funding Shortfall, Closure in 2019 | Meetings & Conventions

Visit Florida Faces Funding Shortfall, Closure in 2019

Visit Florida, the Sunshine State's destination marketing organization, is in jeopardy once again. A plan proposed by the chairman of the Florida House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations subcommittee, Rep. Jay Trumbull, would fund the tourism marketing body just until Oct. 1, 2019 (at $19 million), allowing the CVB to close down afterward. Visit Florida first drew the ire of lawmakers two years ago and had to fight for state funding in both 2017 and 2018.

Among those who hope to renew its full budget at the current level ($76 million) and keep the agency in existence are Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Florida Senate also wants to keep the agency funded and operating; a bill to that effect has already passed committee; a similar bill has been introduced in the House. The state's 60-day legislative session is set to end May 3, 2019.

Dana Young, Visit Florida's president and CEO, has made several public statements about the pending closure; a Visit Florida spokesperson sent Northstar Meetings Group an audio recording from a press conference, where Young explained her stance. "What we are doing is continuing to spread our good message of eight years of record tourism -- 126.1 million visitors in 2018 -- and our 2.15-to-1 return on investment. We have a great story to tell, and at the end of the day, that is what is going to resonate with [lawmakers]."

The agency has also posted two member testimonials to its website among its efforts to stay afloat.