Gov. Rick Scott continued Monday to criticize legislative budget-slashing of the state’s tourism advertising and marketing as he introduced a record-setting quarter of tourists to Florida.
Still, Scott hasn’t indicated what he’ll do with a brand new $82.four billion state finances when it lands on his desk. Scott has the ability to veto all or components of the finances, which lawmakers handed final week for the fiscal 12 months beginning July 1.
Scott requested $100 million for the tourism-marketing company Visit Florida, however lawmakers authorised solely $25 million.
“In enterprise, you’d by no means cease advertising and marketing while you begin to see nice outcomes,” Scott mentioned in a ready assertion. “Instead of decimating funding to Visit Florida, we needs to be investing in tourism advertising and marketing so we are able to proceed to convey file guests to our state.”
Florida drew 31.1 million guests in the course of the first three months of the 12 months, the best quantity throughout any quarter in state historical past, in line with the governor’s workplace.
A 12 months earlier, the state estimated 29.eight million guests in the course of the first three months.
Florida’s tourism numbers have been bolstered by a three.2 p.c improve in home vacationers from the primary quarter of 2016. People from different U.S. states accounted for 27 million of Florida’s guests in the course of the first three months of this 12 months.
Meanwhile, Florida attracted 2.2 p.c fewer Canadians —- due partially to a weaker Canadian greenback —- in a comparability to the primary three quarters of 2016, and abroad guests dropped by 1.eight p.c in the identical time. Both are traits which have been underway for greater than a 12 months.
The vacationers flocking to Florida in the course of the winter and early spring got here as Scott publicly clashed with House leaders over the way forward for the public-private businesses Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida, which handles the state’s business-recruitment efforts.
The finances doesn’t embrace business-incentive cash Scott looked for Enterprise Florida and considerably reduce the cash for tourism advertising and marketing.
Visit Florida, which has confronted media scrutiny due to some controversial contracts, acquired $78 million for tourism advertising and marketing in the course of the present fiscal 12 months, which ends June 30.
Scott, who traveled to Jungle Island in Miami on Monday to announce the first-quarter numbers, known as the diminished funding for subsequent fiscal 12 months “shortsighted.”
Visit Florida President and CEO Ken Lawson mentioned in a launch from the governor’s workplace that, on the proposed funding degree, his company will not be capable of compete for vacationers in opposition to California and Texas.
Scott attributes the expansion within the variety of vacationers —- from 87.three million in 2011 to just about 113 million final 12 months —- to a spike in state spending on advertising and marketing.
Visit Florida acquired $35 million from the state in 2011, Scott’s first 12 months in workplace, as Florida was slowly recovering from the recession.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Republican from Land `O Lakes, contends individuals are pushed to journey extra by their private funds than by state advertising and marketing.
Corcoran and different members of the Legislature from each events have additionally pounced on questionable spending and administration operations the previous couple of years at Visit Florida.
The company’s advertising and marketing efforts have included $11.6 million to sponsor a cooking present hosted by superstar chef Emeril Lagasse; $1 million to contract with rapper Pitbull as a state ambassador; $1.25 million this 12 months to sponsor London-based Fulham Football Club; and $2.9 million to sponsor an IMSA racing group.
Also, Visit Florida has drawn hearth in latest days due to a contract with a German promoting agency that included advertising and marketing Florida to vacationers from Syria.
The Naples Daily News, which first reported the contract data, mentioned the contract was changed with new paperwork that didn’t embrace Syria, which is on the U.S. Department of State record of state sponsors of terrorism.
Rick Scott blasts finances as tourism numbers in Florida rise by: Farah Grimm published: