Another Battle Over Visit Florida's Budget Is in the Works


Less than a year after the last struggle to keep Visit Florida's budget at a level the organization and Gov. Rick Scott, right, deemed necessary to keep the CVB effective in wooing visitors and groups to the Sunshine State, a battle for its next fiscal budget (taking effect July 1) is underway. Scott has called for a $100 million budget for Visit Florida, while the House of Representatives wants to keep it at $76 million - matching its current budget - and the Senate wants to cut it to $50 million.

During an informal press "gaggle" during a visit to Jacksonsville yesterday, Scott told journalists, "Visit Florida is very important to the state; 1.4 million jobs are tied into tourism. We just went through a devastating hurricane season. We've got to continue to market our state."

He added "What we've seen is that as we invest more money into Visit Florida, we get more tourists. Every 76 tourists is another job in our state. I want to continue to invest, and so I'm working through the House and the Senate to make sure that happens."

His comments echo the plea from Visit Florida's CEO Ken Lawson, who last week said to members, "This $26 million cut would do irreparable harm to Visit Florida, Florida's tourism industry and your business. If our funding is cut by more than a third, we will not be able to provide many of the services, programs and marketing co-ops that our partners like you depend on."

Lawson urged the state's tourism industry to contact their legislative leaders to ensure the DMO is fully funded. Lawmakers have until March 9 to reach an agreement on the state budget, including Visit Florida funding, for the new fiscal year. Stay tuned to M&C for more on this story as it unfolds.