Report: COVID-19 tanked state’s return on VISIT FLORIDA spending

visit florida
'Real Disposable Personal Income attributed to VISIT FLORIDA decreased by almost 58 percent during this period.'

The COVID-19 virus that spurred a global pandemic in 2020 and froze tourism industry vital to Florida’s economy also undercut the effectiveness of the state’s investment in its main tourism marketing agency, VISIT FLORIDA, according to a report by state economists.

The report from the Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) shows that from 2019-2022, the state received 58 cents back for every $1 it invested in VISIT FLORIDA. But it also says the drop in revenues generated by the program was due to the shutdown of the travel industry due to the pandemic.

“The largest contributor to the decline in ROI over this review period was the effect of the COVID health crisis on Florida’s tourism industry,” the report states. “Real Disposable Personal Income attributed to VISIT FLORIDA decreased by almost 58 percent during this period.”

A spokeswoman for VISIT FLORIDA didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment Tuesday.

In fact, in prior reports conducted by EDR — VISIT FLORIDA’s return on investment is evaluated every three years — VISIT FLORIDA had a positive return of at least 2 to 1. For 2016-2019, for instance the return was $3.27 for every $1 spent.

The reduced effectiveness came despite a decrease in state funding for VISIT FLORIDA. In the prior three-year reporting window, VISIT FLORIDA received $230 million in taxpayer funds, while during 2019-2022 it received $147 million.

But as tourism rebounds from the pandemic doldrums, state economists project the positive return on investment to come back as well.

“EDR believes that the current working ROI of 3.3 percent is more reflective of the VISIT FLORIDA program over a longer period of time and should be used for all forward-looking analyses,” the report states.

The tourism industry lost its share of total jobs in the state during the pandemic, dropping from 16.6% to 12.8%, but VISIT FLORIDA helped mitigate those losses, accounting for 19,462 additional jobs during the COVID-19 crisis.

Gray Rohrer

One comment

  • Earl Pitts "THE NEW MAYOR OF REALVILLE" American

    April 2, 2024 at 6:57 pm

    Good evening America,
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    America this wisdom nugget is likely the best thing you will ever be blessed with in your entire lifetimes.
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    …. and from that day forward The Beautiful Miss Grundy never called me “Little Early” again I became “Big Earl”.
    Earl Pitts “BIG EARL” American


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