Senate Panel moves to keep Visit Florida alive

Visit Florida logo

Florida’s tourism marketing agency, ‘Visit Florida’ had a small victory Tuesday as the public-private agency faces a shutdown.

Visit Florida was forced to cut staff by one-third earlier this year and faces a shutdown date of July 1, 2020, unless the Legislature acts.

Sen. Ed Hooper’s (R-Clearwater) proposal to keep Visit Florida running through October 1, 2028, drew unanimous support from the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee meeting Tuesday. Now, officials are waiting to see if the House will sign off on the Senate’s proposal.

“Every county in this state depends upon tourism in some part for its total economic health and wealth. Every county," Hooper said. "I don’t know of another entity that can make that boost that we cover every county."

The proposal did reach opposition Tuesday from the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity-Florida, which has disparaged funding for the agency as “corporate welfare.”

“The role of government is not to act as an ad agency,” Americans for Prosperity-Florida Policy Director Phillip Suderman told the Senate committee members Tuesday. “It should focus itself on the core functions that society needs to operate. Visit Florida is not one of those vital roles.”

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.