– Florida tourism is an absolutely critical industry to the state, employing millions of people and contributing millions of dollars to state coffers. Despite its importance to the Sunshine State, tourism is in the crosshairs of the Florida House, a costly decision according to the latest report by the state’s premier non-partisan government watchdog, Florida TaxWatch.
Legislation filed by the House would effectively strangle Florida’s tourism marketing arm, VISIT FLORIDA, by slashing funding to the organization, stating that it does little to benefit the state.
The report finds that if the Sunshine State were to lose out on just 5 million visitors, more than 71,000 jobs would be lost in 2018, with additional 67,000 lost the following year. Piling onto those numbers, Floridians would see their real disposable income fall by $2.9 billion in 2018 and could total nearly $19.5 billion by 2024.
“The facts are clear and concise – VISIT FLORIDA is a positive investment for the state. If we do not properly fund our tourism marketing programs, we put our state’s economic health at risk,” said Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro. “We cannot let our tourism industry fade or Florida will face job losses and lost economic revenue. Let us move past the politics and instead work to keep Florida open for visitors.”
Other states that reduced or eliminated their tourism marketing efforts were all negatively impacted. For example, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Washington, after drastically cutting or eliminating their investment in tourism promotion, all experienced losses in both economic activity and tax revenues, in addition to seeing their market share of the tourism industry fall.
The report states that should Florida choose to follow suit, tourism, along with the economic activity and the taxes it generates, will certainly and predictably decline.
“For years, Florida could not get over the 80 million visitor hump. Since boosting Visit Florida with additional funding, we have seen huge tourism numbers yearly, including a record of nearly 113 million in 2016,” said Senator Jack Latvala, who represents Senate District 16 which consists of parts of Pasco and Pinellas counties. “The success of the tourism industry can be accredited to targeted investments in our marketing programs that have made Florida at the top of every person’s mind when considering their next vacation.”
Read the full report here