Being heavily involved in the Florida tourism industry, naturally we have been watching the situation of Visit Florida. As a member of VRMA, FVRMA and FRLA this topic of discussion has come up often. As a committed member of the hospitality industry we found ourselves compelled to follow this topic closely. In fact the Captevrix team loaded up one day and went to see Gov. Rick Scott’s town hall meeting on the First Coast to hear what his plans were for Florida’s tourism industry and what he planned to do to help save Visit Florida.
The team found themselves conversing with others within the hospitality industry during Gov. Scott’s meeting and we were shocked to hear that some vendors of the industry based their business solely on Visit Florida’s support. This was surprising and saddening at the same time. It is these companies that will be heavily affected by Visit Florida’s future.
I will give it to Gov. Scott, he did try to make a compelling argument to Tallahassee and his words at the meetings sounded true and sincere as we led up to this day.
Moving forward, it is now May 9, 2017 and Florida’s legislature has spoken. Their proposed budget came in at a 67% reduction! That is a detrimental decrease for the organization. Their budget will go from 76 million to 25 million! This will have a significant effect on many in the hospitality industry. I’ll be honest, I expected a reduction as I didn’t see them completely doing away with Visit Florida as that just seems crazy, but that drastic of a reduction, they can’t be serious!
But wait, there’s more! There’s still hope left in the fact that the budget has not made it to Gov. Scott’s desk yet. He can still veto it; however, the Legislature may have just enough votes to override him. We can always hope. The governor had noted in one of his meetings as well as in a few Florida media publications that he has options. I am not sure what all those options are, but I am eager to know how he plans to use them and how they will affect the hospitality community.
As a native Floridian, I am confident that no matter what the outcome of Visit Florida’s budget, our tourism industry will continue to fight. We have always managed to bounce back with and without Visit Florida. Visit Florida just made things a little easier.
We’ll continue to watch what Tallahassee has to say and will advise our clients accordingly. There’s always options and solutions.