Two of Florida’s notable marketing programs, VISIT FLORIDA and Enterprise Florida, received funding extension support from two of its committee stops so far. The programs are prioritized in HB 489 sponsored by Florida State Rep. Linda Chaney (R-FL-69).
The House Tourism, Infrastructure & Emergency Subcommittee and the Commerce Committee have both passed the bill with little fanfare.
Enterprise Florida, the less publicly scrutinized agency, has not disclosed the amount of funding it is seeking in this year’s budget proposals, but VISIT FLORIDA has said it is seeking $50 million.
Debates roared in previous years over the extension, particularly for VISIT FLORIDA which was subject to public financial scandals. Calls to sunset the programs had the most traction under former House Speaker Jose Oliva (R), however, the legislature decided on conciliatory measures that require extensions every two years.
This proposal, however, would extend both agencies to 2028.
Chaney said VISIT FLORIDA engages in “methodical and research-driven” marketing promoting Florida over other states.
“Although (tourists) may go to some of these larger brands, they end up at the cupcake shop,” Chaney said. “If their car breaks down … they are at the smaller businesses. And that’s because they are in the state of Florida to begin with.”
Americans for Prosperity – Florida (APF-FL), an organization dedicated to protecting public dollars, is not supporting VISIT FLORIDA’s extension and seeks to stop the legislation. APF-FL State Director Skylar Zander said in a news release in November, related to Senate companion legislation, that spending taxpayer dollars to market Florida is not its best use.
“We have seen that just because you spend more money towards promoting people visiting the state, it doesn’t always equate to more people coming. The government should not take money away from hardworking Florida families to invest in this failed strategy that shifts money from their local communities towards Florida’s big destination spots. To take money from Floridians to tell them to go to Florida’s major destination spots is a waste of money. We urge concerned citizens across the state to call on their legislators to fully repeal this program so that government can assume its proper role.”
However, Florida’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research found that for every dollar invested into VISIT FLORIDA, the state receives $3.27 in return.
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