Rick Scott announces record $100 million to grow Florida tourism

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Gov. Rick Scott, pushing his proposed “tax-cut budget” for 2014, announced today he is making the largest investment in state history on Florida’s leading business — tourism.

In a Friday morning event at the Orlando International Airport, Scott declared Visit Florida, the state’s tourism agency, will receive $100 million as part of his 2014-2015 “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget.” 

This unprecedented budget expansion is almost $40 million more than the $63 million the agency received last year.

The infusion of cash will help Visit Florida market the Sunshine State as a year-round destination for domestic and international visitors, as well as support communities trying to attract international air service to the state.

“Last year, we secured more than $63 million in our ‘Florida Families First Budget,’ for Visit Florida, and we made record gains in tourism,” Scott said. “We are on track for another record year, and we hope to build on this incredible momentum and make the Sunshine State the number one travel destination in the world.”

Every 85 visitors to Florida support one local job, Scott said, making growing the state’s tourism industry a sensible decision, one that would result in more jobs and a stronger economy.

Last year proved to be a banner year for Florida tourism, as the state welcomed 72.6 million visitors in the first three quarters of 2013, an increase of 3.4 percent over the same period in 2012.

It was the largest nine-month period in the history of Florida’s travel industry.

According to Visit Florida estimates, those vacationing in the state spent $51.8 billion in January-August 2013, a 5.8 percent year-over-year increase from 2012. Direct travel-related employment in Florida also rose 2.8 percent in the same period, adding 29,700 jobs since this same time one year ago.

“On behalf of the statewide tourism industry, I am grateful to Governor Scott for his recognition of Visit Florida’s ability to provide a significant return on the state’s investment in tourism marketing,” said agency president and CEO Will Seccombe.

“The Governor’s visionary leadership puts us in a position to make 2014 another record year for visitation and fuels the momentum that has Florida on track to become the No. 1 travel destination in the world,” Seccombe added.

Watch video Scott’s announcement here.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.