By Nancy Smith
Sen. Ed Hooper, R-Palm Harbor and Rep. Mel Ponder, R-Destin filed legislation Monday to reauthorize VISIT FLORIDA for eight years, extending the sunset date for the organization to Oct. 1, 2028.
In 2014, the Florida Legislature passed a bill that affected all direct-support organizations in the state, including VISIT FLORIDA. The bill added a paragraph, known as a sunset provision, automatically repealing each organization on a specific date unless reviewed and saved from repeal by the Florida Legislature. VISIT FLORIDA’s sunset date was extended to July 1, 2020 last year by the Florida Legislature. Senate Bill 362 and House Bill 213, Florida Tourism Marketing, would extend this date. A bill that extended VISIT FLORIDA’s sunset provision by eight years was passed unanimously by the Florida Senate during the 2019 Legislative Session.
Hooper said, “Over 120 million visitors annually visit our beautiful state and keep our economy strong. VISIT FLORIDA does an incredible job of attracting visitors from all parts of the world to come and experience the beauty of Florida. Rep. Ponder and I both know the importance of this No. 1 economic driver to the overall vitality of our state. I am proud to sponsor this important legislation.”
Said Ponder, “Last week, economists from the Florida Legislature confirmed that Florida’s economy relies on tourism. That’s why I have been such a strong supporter of the tourism industry throughout my career. I appreciate CEO Dana Young and VISIT FLORIDA’s efforts to ensure that Florida vacations stay at the top-of-mind for potential travelers, especially following times of crisis. Florida must continue to protect and grow our tourism industry, and I am proud to sponsor a bill that allows VISIT FLORIDA to continue to do just that.”
The filing of this bill follows presentations made by the Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) last week that stated, in part, that “tourism-related revenue losses pose the greatest potential risk to Florida’s economic outlook.”
Quick Facts about VISIT FLORIDA and Florida Tourism:
- For every $1 invested in VISIT FLORIDA, $2.15 is returned to the taxpayers, according to EDR.
- Visitors to Florida save every Florida household $1,512 annually on state and local taxes.
- Tourism supports one out of every six jobs in Florida.
- In 2017, out-of-state visitors added $85.9 billion to Florida’s economy. That is more than the entire GDP of 12 states.
- VISIT FLORIDA has one of the highest ROIs of any state economic development program.