The Florida tourism board has voted to cut all ties with Visit Florida, the state’s tourism promotion agency. Visit Florida has been having quite a bit of bad luck lately stemming from new transparency rules in hopes of holding it more accountable.
Visit Florida angered the Florida Legislature after negotiating some multi-million dollar promotional contracts largely behind closed doors. One of these contracts was with the rapper Pitbull. He was given $1 million to promote the state of Florida.
The new transparency rules, passed back in June by the Florida Legislature and signed into law by Governor Rick Scott, were created at the behest of Florida House Republicans angry about the backroom deals.
With these new rules in place, Gov. Scott was able to secure a whole $76 million for Visit Florida’s upcoming 2018 fiscal budget. With this money comes an understanding required by House Speaker Richard Corcoran and others to require all members of Visit Florida’s board of directors to hand over their personal incomes and information.
Some members have chosen to jump ship rather than disclose. Florida Attractions Association CEO Bill Lupfer recently resigned as a member of Visit Florida’s board of directors, citing transparency rules as too burdensome. Whole boards are also severing ties with the agency, including 12 tourism boards, including Visit Orlando.
However, 43 other tourism agencies in the state have chosen to renew their partnerships with Visit Florida. Some experts predict this loss of global area marketing could lead to ripple effects in Florida’s economy. With agencies not working together, local tourism may suffer in some areas.
Response From Visit Florida
“VISIT FLORIDA is working every day with more than 12,000 industry businesses across the state to market Florida and attract a record 120 million visitors.
Currently, 43 DMOs have renewed their partnership with VISIT FLORIDA and 12 have not. Below is a list of the 43 who have renewed:”
Alachua County Board of County Commissioners
Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel
Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
Clay County Board of Commissioners
Columbia County TDC
DeSoto County Board of County Commissioners
Discover Crystal River
Dixie County Tourist Development Council
Florida’s Adventure Coast; Brooksville-Weeki Wachee Visitors Bureau
Gadsden County BOCC
Gilchrist County TDC
Glades County Tourism Development Council
Halifax Area Advertising Authority
Hamilton County Tourist Development Council
Highlands County Board of County Commissioners
Jackson County TDC
Jefferson County Tourist Development Council
Lake County Board of County Commissioners
Levy County Visitors Bureau
Martin County Board of County Commissioners
Mexico Beach Community Development Council
Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau
New Smyrna Beach Area Visitors Bureau
North Florida Regional Chamber of Commerce
Ocala / Marion County Visitors and Convention Bureau
Okaloosa County Tourist Development Department
Okeechobee County Tourist Development Council
Palm Coast and the Flagler Beaches
Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau
Putnam County Chamber of Commerce
St. Johns County VCB
Sumter County Tourism
Suwannee County Tourist Development Council
The Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor and Convention Bureau
Visit Central Florida
Visit Sarasota County
Visit St. Lucie
Wakulla County Tourist Development Council
Washington County Tourist Development Council