TALLAHASSEE — Tourism officials say a bill passed this week could cripple Visit Florida, to the point of wiping out the tourism board at a critical time for attracting international travellers to the state.
According to the Orlando Sentinel the bill passed by a 10 – 5 vote. The bill eliminates funding for tourism marketing and other programs.
Visit Florida has been beset by scandal after it partnered with Florida-born rapper Pitbull for a tourism promotion campaign. Florida Governor Rick Scott called for former Visit Florida CEO Will Seccombe to step down after Visit Florida refused to publicly disclose it paid rapper Pitbull US$1 million to promote the state. Visit Florida’s new President and CEO Ken Lawson was appointed in January.
Tourism funding critics say increases in visitation to Florida don’t justify current levels of government funding.
According to TravelMole, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who was in favour of the bill to eliminate funding, said that between 2011 and 2015, Visit Florida funding increased 112% while visitor numbers were up 22%.