Emergency Alert: Florida House Proposal Obliterates Tourism Marketing in Florida

March 27, 2023 10:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Dear Florida Attraction Association Member,

This is very important and will take a few minutes of your valuable time to absorb. 

A bill was filed last Friday afternoon that would destroy the funding model for both VISIT FLORIDA and your county TDC and leave our state’s tourism industry in peril.

My colleague, Robert Skrob of Destinations Florida (the association of our state’s county DMOs) has written a masterful summary of the bill which I am sharing with you below. But I do want to communicate three “asks” of you first -

  1. Share this within your tourism industry, county leadership and other Tourist Development Council stakeholders. 
  2.  Ask anyone concerned with this bill to contact members of the committee to ask them to Vote Against PCB RRS2. 
  3. Plan to be at the committee meeting at 2:00 pm on Tuesday, March 28th. Bring members of your industry negatively impacted by this proposal. If you are able to come to Tallahassee this Tuesday, March 28 and perhaps even speak to the Committee in opposition of this bill and share how VISIT FLORIDA and/or your county’s TDC/CVB benefits your business, please contact me Lupfer@FloridaAttractions.org or (850) 222-2885. We’ll make sure you’re properly prepared and equipped.

Thank you for your immediate action.


Bill Lupfer

President & CEO

Florida Attractions Association

This is the biggest attack on the tourism industry ever proposed. 

The Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee agenda for Tuesday, March 28th at 2:00 pm includes the following bill:

PCB Bill by Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee:

Link to bill text.

In summary, this bill:

  • Rural counties are required to pay 2% of Tourist Development Tax (TDT) collections and non-rural counties 5% of TDT to fund Visit Florida, approximately $70 million for 2023-26, then becomes voluntary via vote of governing body.
  • Requires all Tourist Development Tax levied to be reauthorized by referendum every 6-years exempting TDT collected to cover county bond obligations.
  • Eliminates proceeds from rental car surcharge to Visit Florida.
  • Prohibits any state appropriations to Visit Florida.
  • Requires Visit Florida to ensure that 75 percent of all expenditures go towards activities, services, functions and programs that directly assist state parks, state forests and rural counties.
  • Require VF to match monies from each county on a one-to-one basis while prohibiting any proceeds from TDT to be counted towards the match. Any co-op marketing or local DMO program participation cannot count. 
  • Expands the ability for counties to use TDT for tourism infrastructure for transportation, sanitary sewer, solid waste, drainage, potable water, and pedestrian facilities by removing the requirements to use at least 40% of TDT for marketing as well as removing the independent professional analysis demonstrating the positive impact to tourist-related businesses in the county.
  • Based on our calculations, the definition of rural counties within this bill includes: Baker, Bradford, Calhoun, Columbia, DeSoto, Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Glades, Gulf, Hamilton, Hardee, Hendry, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Okeechobee, Putnam, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Wakulla, Walton and Washington.

Since this bill was published at 4:30 pm Friday, March 24, the following organizations have already joined us in opposing this bill:

  • Florida Association of Counties
  • Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association 
  • Florida Attractions Association 

List committee members. Name/party/county delegations.

Rep Tyler I. Sirois (Republican) Merritt Island Email  Twitter

Rep Lauren Melo (Republican) Naples Email  Twitter

Rep Joe Casello (Democrat) Boynton Beach Email  Twitter

Rep Carolina Amesty (Republican) Orlando Email  Twitter

Rep Peggy Gossett-Seidman (Republican) Boca Raton Email  

Representative Jeff Holcomb (Republican) Spring Hill Email

Rep Randy'' Scott Maggard (Republican) Zephyrhills Email Twitter

Rep Patt Maney (Republican) Ft. Walton Beach Email

Rep Fiona McFarland (Republican) Sarasota Email Twitter

Rep Angie Nixon (Democrat) Jacksonville Email Twitter

Rep Will Robinson Jr. (Republican) Bradenton Email Twitter

Rep Jason Shoaf (Republican) Live Oak Email Twitter

Rep David Silvers (Democrat) West Palm Beach Email Twitter

Rep Susan L. Valdes (Democrat) Tampa Email Twitter

Rep 'Brad' Yeager (Republican) New Port Richey Email Twitter

Here are our first draft talking points after a first reading of the bill:  

  • A newly filed Proposed Committee Bill (PCB) from the House Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee would severely harm Florida’s tourism industry by stripping away the state’s and local communities’ ability to effectively promote its tourist destinations.
  • Tourism is the lifeblood of Florida’s economy and was the key to vitalizing the free State of Florida’s economy following the pandemic bringing in a surplus of revenue to the state. 

Hurting Tourism Promotion at the State and Local Levels

  • Florida has no state income tax and residents save $1,500 annually in taxes thanks to the local and state revenue generated by tourism promotion driven visitation. 
  • Visit Florida generates a return on investment of $3.27 in taxes for each dollar invested by the State of Florida. 
  • The new PCB would effectively destroy Visit Florida by reducing it to a shell of its current form, which has been highly successful.
  • New match requirements contained in this bill stipulate on a “by county” basis, which will make it impossible for Visit Florida to meet match requirements. 
  • Visit Florida would be limited in serving as the statewide brand as only 29 of Florida’s counties would be in the pool of counties eligible to receive the benefit of 75 percent of Visit Florida’s expenditures. This leaves very little for the remainder of Florida’s counties. 
  • Industry members in non-rural counties are not going to participate in Visit Florida if they cannot benefit from its programming.
  • More than 90 percent of all tourism businesses in the state would be served by less than 25 percent of Visit Florida’s budget - thousands of small businesses are negatively impacted by virtual of their location outside of a rural county. 
  • The state lodging industry agreed to levy the Tourist Development Taxes to fund local tourism promotion and this bill is a massive breach of that agreement. 
  • The bill also puts all entities that rely on Tourist Development Tax collections into jeopardy by mandating local referendums every six years.
  • This bill kills local tourism promotion by making retaining staff and vendors impossible. Who will take a job that could be sunset every six years?   

Thank you for your efforts to oppose this terrible bill.

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