As we move into the final days of the 2020 Legislative Session, we find our tourism industry in peril on two fronts...
House Speaker Oliva has denied our industry the opportunity to defend VISIT FLORIDA before the committees he referenced HB 213 to. The House's position is to let VISIT FLORIDA sunset on June 30, 2020 - without any public input or discussion - is very unfortunate.
The Senate's position remains steadfast, unanimously passing SB 362 which extends VISIT FLORIDA until October 2028. In addition, the Senate (and Governor) recommend that VISIT FLORIDA continue to be funded at $50 million/year.
The result of this dichotomy will be the negotiation of the two chambers through the budget process which likely begins late this week. The next 72 hours will be critical, and NOW is the time to contact your Representative and Senator about the importance of VISIT FLORIDA. We need to turn the House in our favor. The Florida Senate needs to hold firm - they are our industry's "firewall".
The House budget recommends expanding the use of Tourist Development Tax (TDT) revenues for water quality issues. While we all desire clean water and efficient water treatment facilities, tourism promotion is what primes the pump that produces sales taxes our tourists pay to fund water quality initiatives. We need to ensure the House does not further erode the use of TDT for other purposes beyond the promotion of tourism.
Call to Action
As we approach the end of the 2020 Legislative Session, Speaker Oliva and President Galvano informally begin to transfer power to the next House Speaker, Chris Sprowls, and the next Senate President, Wilton Simpson.
These six Legislators will decide the fate of VISIT FLORIDA and the productivity of your county's Tourist Development Tax income:
You can influence the outcome by also contacting your Senator
and tell them why you support VISIT FLORIDA and protecting Tourism Promotion Tax revenue for their intended purpose. Ask them to lobby their chamber's Appropriations Committee.