Question of the Day: Why Cut Funding For Visit Florida?

Q&A of the Day – Visit Florida ROI – Should we be cutting it?

Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.


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Today’s question…

(Florida’s the #1 Destination in the country) And they want to cut the budget for Florida tourism? I just don't understand.

Bottom Line:As the state budget is coming down to its moments of completion, Visit Florida, former Governor Scott’s one-time baby, found itself on the chopping block. Without a Governor fighting in the trenches for it, legislators who’d been looking to cut it or eliminate it altogether this year gained the upper-hand in negotiations. When all of the dust settled on Visit Florida’s debates, it managed to survive, barely.

Governor Ron DeSantis asked to retain the program at the same $76 million-dollar level it’d been funded at for the past two years but despite record revenues and thus record spending in this budget, that didn’t happen. Visit Florida is surviving but with a $50 million budget for the year, or a 34% decrease. Speaking with Florida’s CFO Jimmy Patronis, he stated: “Visit Florida provides the best ROI of any Florida program period”. That’s pretty definitive. Especially for a program that’s being cut by more than a third despite record spending by the state. So, here’s the question. What is the track record of Visit Florida? 

To your point/question about Florida being the top destination for visitors and relocation's and the main program that advances our cause being cut... Here’s this. The ROI is real. Jimmy Patronis is on point. Based on a study by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, Visit Florida has produced an annual ROI between 220% to 320% for every year of its existence. Here’s an excerpt from the study’s summation statement on ROI:

The positive ROI was due to several factors. First, the goods purchased by tourists are taxable at the state level. These purchases include lodgings at hotels, meals at restaurants, gifts at souvenir shops, tickets to amusement parks and Florida attractions, and car rentals. All these goods are subject to state taxes, most to sales taxes. Car rentals and gasoline purchases are subject to the state’s rental car surcharge and fuel taxes. The ROI also benefited from the strong tourism growth in Florida over the past few years. During the review period, the number of out-of-state visitors grew by 5.32% annually. In comparison, two other tourism-heavy states, California and Hawaii, had tourism growth rates that were lower than Florida during the same time period. Additionally, the percentage of tourists influenced by marketing rose. The analysis indicated that 57.3% of all out-of-state tourists were influenced by tourism marketing. In the prior analysis, marketing influenced about 54.5% of all out-of-state visitors. A difference of 2.8% is significant and amounts to more than 8.6 million more marketing influenced tourists. A portion of these visitors were attributed to VISIT FLORIDA.

Visit Florida is great at marketing the state. It’s a shame that it’s being cut. There’s a better argument to be made that it should have been increased by a third as opposed to being cut by a third.


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