The Florida Senate proposes cutting the Visit Florida budget to $50 million, which is $26 million below the current level.
Gov. Rick Scott wants $100 million. He addressed this discrepancy in a gaggle Tuesday in Jacksonville.
“Visit Florida’s very important to the state,” Scott said in a gaggle that covered similar lines. “1.4 million jobs are tied into tourism. We just went through a devastating hurricane season. We’ve got to continue to market our state.”
“I’ve asked for $100 million in the budget this year for Visit Florida. We have $3 billion dollars projected revenue over recurring expenses this year,” Scott said, “and we have the money to invest.”
“What we’ve seen is that as we invest more money into Visit Florida, we get more tourists. Every 76 tourists is another job in our state. I want to continue to invest, and so I’m working through the House and the Senate to make sure that happens,” Scott added, “that we get to $100 million so we get more jobs in our state.
This messaging from the gaggle echoes a statement from late January: “I completely oppose the Florida Senate’s proposal to cut VISIT FLORIDA’s budget by a third. I will fight to protect the 1.4 million jobs that rely on Florida’s tourism industry by making sure that VISIT FLORIDA gets $100 million this year. After the devastating hurricane season we faced last year, we shouldn’t be playing games with our state’s tourism industry.”
Gov. Scott has been a believer in incentives, and has put the state’s money where his mouth is.
His Jacksonville visit was a rollout of $35 million in funding for nine projects in the state from Florida’s job growth fund.
That fund, new this year, was a compromise solution to House pushback against Enterprise Florida, which was said to create winners and losers.
Scott is pushing for $85 million in the upcoming budget for the fund, which is not a universally popular proposal either.