For decades, the state of Florida has always been a magnet for tourism. And they didn’t have to do much work. In some ways, the official branch of Florida tourism has always been underfunded.
It was like Florida was just there, that the beaches will always be there, and that Disney World will always be in Florida.
That appears to be on the brink of change.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis this week announced his preliminary budget for 2023-24, which he dubbed the ‘Framework For Freedom’, and the budget grew to nearly $115 billion with a $15 billion reserve. Tourism is expected to receive a healthy dose of that. And why not?
DeSantis created the momentum by keeping Florida mask-less during the height of COVID, and the Visit Florida folks ran with it.
“Florida’s focus on freedom has led us to outpace the nation on all fronts,” DeSantis said in a statement.
DeSantis announced that he is recommending $100 million in recurring funding for VISIT FLORIDA as part of the Framework for Freedom Budget.
“VISIT FLORIDA’s worth has been tested and proven,” Dana Young, VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO said in a statement. “Governor DeSantis knows that tourism is Florida’s No. 1 industry, and these additional dollars will be felt across every community in Florida and by every resident of this state. Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, our successful marketing campaigns and partnerships continue to break visitation records. We must continue to invest in the marketing tools necessary to keep visitors coming to Florida and pumping their dollars into our economy.”
It was not lost on many that the beaches and the big tourist attractions stayed open or reopened fairly quickly with capacity limits.
This is just a proposed budget, but it would no doubt be a big boost for Florida’s tourism.
In 2021, Florida’s Office of Demographic Research reported that for every $1 invested in VISIT FLORIDA, $3.27 is returned in tax revenue, the highest ever calculated for the organization.