Could NAACP travel advisory to Florida impact state tourism?

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) issued a pointed travel advisory over the weekend, referring to recent policies and laws signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as an "all-out attack on Black Americans."

"Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the State of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of and the challenges faced by African Americans and other minorities," reads part of the advisory, which was published Saturday on the NAACP's website.

The League of United Latin American Citizens and Equality Florida have both issued similar travel advisories, following the passing of the Parental Rights in Education Act, which restricts discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools, and the "Let Kids Be Kids" package, which bans children from drag shows and strip clubs, and restricts puberty blockers and gender-reassignment surgery for children.

In response, Jeremy T. Redfern, press secretary for Gov. Ron DeSantis referred to the advisory as a "stunt," and pointed to a recent announcement that Florida is seeing record tourism.

Could such an advisory impact tourism to Florida?

Weeks ago, Visit Orlando announced that some 74 million people visited Orlando in 2022, a 25% increase over 2021, and very close to pre-pandemic levels.

"It is too early to predict the impact of the travel advisory. We have been receiving inquiries and concerned calls from groups and travelers primarily around the safety of our destination," Visit Orlando said in a statement. 

"Orlando has always been and will continue to be a diverse, welcoming and inclusive community. As the top travel destination in the country and longstanding leader in the travel industry, our community has a history of welcoming all to our destination."

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings' Office said in a statement that "Orange County is open for business" and that "our community values diversity and embraces inclusion."

"Hate is never welcome here. We look forward to working with the NAACP to reassure them and others that Orange County is a caring, compassionate and welcoming community," the statement read.

John Hanley, a political science lecture at the University of Florida, said the recent advisory could impact how people see Gov. DeSantis amid an expected – though, not yet announced – presidential run.

"A group like the NAACP, there are probably a lot of people who are going to follow that as a recommendation or they are now going to have a more negative view on vacationing in Florida than other states than they would have without this kind of advisory," he said.

As for how much it could impact tourism, Dr. Sean Snaith with UCF's Institute for Economic Forecasting, he said it depends on how many people actually heed the warning or view it more than a political statement.

"It depends on how effective it is and how many people sort of heed this warning as something other than a political gesture," Snaith said.