Ken Lawson, CEO of Visit Florida
Florida legislators have approved a $76 million budget for Visit Florida for fiscal year 2018-2019. That figure is the same amount the state CVB was awarded for fiscal year 2017-2018. While the measure did not meet the goals of two political entities -- Gov. Rick Scott had called for an increase to $100 million, while the Senate initially proposed slashing the budget to $50 million -- it was nowhere near the battle that ensued a year ago, which ended with a compromised budget of $76 million.
Following yesterday's vote, Visit Florida thanked all its members who advocated for the importance of tourism funding. In light of the Senate's initial threat to cut the budget, Visit Florida CEO Ken Lawson urged the tourism industry to contact their legislative leaders to ensure the DMO is fully funded. "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."
Earlier this year, Gov. Scott pushed for an increased budget to keep the CVB effective at attracting visitors and groups to the Sunshine State. He told journalists at the time, "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. 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."
Florida's new fiscal year begins July 1, 2018.