Visit Florida gets funding boost under proposed state budget

 Friday, February 3, 2023 


Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation, would see its state funding double from $50 million to $100 million under Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposed state budget for the Fiscal Year 2023-24.

The increased funding comes as Florida welcomed 97.7 million domestic visitors in 2022, an 11.4 percent increased compared to 2021.

A further 5 million international tourists arrived in Florida last year, marking a 94.8 percent year-over-year increase off the back of terminated COVID-19 travel restrictions.

According to agency data, the top origin points for international travellers last year was Colombia, Canada, and Mexico.

Tourism is the beating heart of our economy, and Governor DeSantis knows that Floridians depend on Visit Florida’s ability to attract visitors to the state, said Dana Young, Visit Florida’s President and CEO.

In 2019, Florida visitors contributed $96.5 billion to Florida’s economy and supported over 1.6 million Florida jobs.

According to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, for every $1 the state invests in Visit Florida, $3.27 in state tax revenue is generated.

In recent years, Visit Florida has faced challenges in securing state funding, as some legislators questioned the effectiveness of the corporation’s marketing efforts and the return on investment for state funding.

Despite this, the agency was granted another five years of life last year via Senate Bill 434, which extended its authorization from Oct. 1, 2023, to Oct. 1, 2028.

Moreover, Visit Florida has continued to receive support from players in the tourism industry and other stakeholders, who believe that the corporation plays an important role in promoting the state and boosting its economy through tourism.

Three Florida airports — Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV), and Orlando International Airport (MCO) — were selected last year as part of the 85 airports nationwide to receive funding grants as part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law earlier this year by President Joe Biden.

The grants will help ease the load on Floridian tourism infrastructure. MCO, one of the nation’s busiest airports, serves as an international gateway to locations like Disney World and St. Augustine.

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