Holly Raschein: Film industry puts heads in beds

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The film and television industry should be a targeted part of Florida’s economic recovery plan.

Film tourism is a dynamic form of tourism where visitors explore locations and destinations which have become popular due to their appearance in films and television series.

A VISIT FLORIDA survey showed almost 25% of domestic tourists to Florida said something they saw on film or television contributed to their decision to visit our state. A study from the Association of Film Commissioners International showed 20% of worldwide tourists are influenced by film or television when choosing their destination.

Miami Vice” transformed South Florida’s tourism industry. “The Truman Show” attracted countless people year after year to Seaside in Northwest Florida. “Burn Notice” is the longest Florida-based television series in history.

For seven seasons, from 2007 to 2013, “Burn Notice” put Miami on the television for millions to see. At the height of its popularity, “Burn Notice” was cable television’s #1 show.

In the decade since “Dolphin Tale” was released, attendance at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium has skyrocketed from approximately 200,000 per year to a peak year of nearly 800,000 while the additional tourism in Pinellas County supports 11,000 permanent jobs in the area.

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium recently completed an $80 million expansion made possible in large part due to the success of “Dolphin Tale” and “Dolphin Tale 2.” Over the next decade, the Aquarium is projected to have a $7.1 billion economic impact in Pinellas County including $437 million total state and local taxes generated and 4.7 million hotel room nights generated — all sparked by two movies.

In my area, according to the Monroe County Tourism Development Council, after season one of “Bloodline” was filmed in the Florida Keys, more than $65.5 million in incremental tourism spending was attributed to visitors lured to the Keys by the Netflix series.

“Bloodline” filmed three seasons in the Keys before being canceled prematurely due to the expiration of Florida’s incentive program for the industry. The loss of the remaining three seasons of “Bloodline” was projected to be $75 million in direct spending plus additional tourism enhancement.

During the 2020 Legislative Session, my last as a member of the Florida House of Representatives, I was proud to co-sponsor legislation that would create a modest but effective “targeted rebate program” to entice film, television and digital media companies to bring projects, jobs and money to Florida. The bills received bipartisan support and had the backing of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida TaxWatch and Associated Industries of Florida.

The legislation was performance-based and designed to produce an excellent return on investment, ensuring the state receives more than $1 of tax revenues for every $1 in rebates provided while creating more than $5 of spending in the state.

I encourage our newly elected Legislature to recognize the value and potential of this industry to quickly help aid in our economic recovery.

A booming film, television and digital media industry would bring high-wage jobs to the state, accelerating Florida’s economic recovery and further diversifying our economy.

This industry has a double impact on Florida’s economy, first when the average project spends $20 million+ in the local community while hiring 1,500+ Floridians; and then when worldwide tourists flock to Florida after seeing our beautiful state on big, small and mobile screens.

It’s clear the marketplace needs more content than ever before, and there’s more money available to create it. That content should be made in Florida.

The products of the industry — commercials, TV and movies — are key necessities to diversifying and rebuilding Florida’s economy while enhancing our state’s vital tourism industry seriously hurt by this virus.

The film and television industry should be a targeted part of Florida’s economic recovery plan.

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Holly Raschein is a former member of the Florida House of Representatives, serving District 120 in Monroe and Southern Miami-Dade Counties.

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One comment

  • Bradford Fuller

    January 15, 2021 at 3:03 pm

    Thank you Holly. I wish other Legislators could have your insight. Those of us in the industry greatly appreciate all your efforts.

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