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Fully Funding VISIT FLORIDA: An Investment In Your Pocket And Our Economy

January 25, 2018 Visit USA No Comments Email Email

Florida is unlike any other place in the world. Whether it’s our pristine beaches, natural wonders like the Everglades, the awe-inspiring magic of Orlando or an off-the-beaten path adventure like swimming with manatees, our state is simply a cut above the rest. In 2016, a record 112.4 million people came from every corner of the globe to visit the place we get to call home. In fact, every year for the past seven years, as we’ve increased funding to market our state to travelers across the world, we’ve seen our visitation numbers climb. As the tourism agency that markets Florida to out-of-state visitors, VISIT FLORIDA leads the charge to bring more visitors to our state.

Why does any of this matter to us as Floridians? Because tourism is the economic engine that drives our state. Without tourism, we’d be hard-pressed to build roads, hire teachers or protect the environment. In 2016, visitors to our state had an $112 billion economic impact, contributing $88 billion to Florida’s gross domestic product and over $11 billion in state and local taxes. If you take away state and local taxes generated by tourism, every household would need to pay an extra $1,535 in taxes just to break even. Simply put, the more visitors we attract to our state, the more of your hard-earned money you get to keep.

And tourism doesn’t just keep your taxes low. It creates jobs and bolsters our economy. Tourism supports 1.4 million jobs at more than 12,000 small, medium and large businesses across our state. For every 78 visitors, our state creates a job. One in six jobs in Florida is supported by visitor spending. By every measurable economic indicator, tourism stimulates our economy and creates jobs unlike any other industry in our state.

From 2007 to 2010, our visitation numbers consistently hovered around 84 million during the national recession. During that time, VISIT FLORIDA’s funding remained consistent as well – at just around $30 million. But each year following that period, as we began to receive more funding to market the state, we saw our visitation numbers climb. As we went from $32 million in 2010 to $76 million in 2017, we saw our visitation numbers go from 82 million to 112 million. Those direct results speak for themselves. The investment has paid off big time.

But even with record numbers following that investment, we’re not resting on our laurels. We’ve been developing cutting-edge, innovative marketing programs to retain repeat visitors while also attracting new ones. We’ve refocused our efforts in key markets, such as Canada and the United Kingdom, to ensure that Florida remains competitive with other destinations. We’ve realigned our programs so that each one is measurable and produces a high return on investment. We’ve cut waste and dedicated historic amounts to core marketing programs. We are constantly improving and progressing in new ways to meet our goal of attracting record numbers of visitors to our state.

Having the resources to market our state is critical. Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Scott and the Legislature over the past seven years, we’ve continued to have the resources we’ve needed to be successful. This year, to continue upon our success, the governor has asked for VISIT FLORIDA to be funded at $100 million – a request we fully support. As we’ve seen, there’s a direct correlation between the funding we receive and the money you as a taxpayer get to keep. In fact, for every one dollar the Legislature gives VISIT FLORIDA, we return $2.15 to the taxpayer. I don’t know any investor who would pass that up.

Funding for tourism in our state is an investment – with a high return for every taxpayer in this state. It’s an investment in our roads, bridges and ports. It’s an investment in our schools, teachers and students. It’s an investment in our beaches, springs and parks. It’s an investment that creates jobs, bolsters our economy and keeps Floridians’ money where it belongs – in their pockets.

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