The budget reduction hit home for many, with the Florida Association of Destination Marketing (FADMO) releasing a statement on the budget cuts.
“We were disheartened today to hear that the more than 30-percent cut to funding of VISIT FLORIDA means they will have to cut payroll by more than $3 million, resulting in personnel cuts and job losses," the press release states.
"Tourism marketing and promotion in Florida means more than just advertising to welcome out-of-state visitors. Florida’s tourism economy puts 1.4 million people to work. And, unfortunately, many more Floridians will soon be feeling the uncertainty and sting of unemployment because VISIT FLORIDA was underfunded this legislative session.
People don’t come to Florida by accident – it takes the partnerships between businesses, local marketing organizations and VISIT FLORIDA to help small and local tourism-reliant businesses thrive and grow. We are hopeful Florida’s leadership will continue to see the value in having organizations dedicated to promoting Florida’s tourism offerings in this incredibly competitive industry, and by doing so, send a clear message to all Floridians that their jobs and our economy matter.”
The reduction will hit hard on July 1, which is the start of the operating budget for next fiscal year. The slashes will require many staff members to be let go, and television advertising will be scaled back in favor of more on digital and social media for advertising.
Visit Florida currently employees about 135 people, with an overall payroll of $12.1 million.
The bad news comes the same day that Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that Florida broke an all-time record for visitation during the first quarter of 2019. A total of 35.7 million people visited the Sunshine State from January to March. That is a 5.8 percent increase from the first quarter of 2018.
“An all-time record quarter of visitation is exciting news for the entire state,” said Governor DeSantis. “As we work to diversify Florida’s economy, it is critical that we keep visitation to Florida, and the revenue it generates, healthy and robust. VISIT FLORIDA plays an important role in this goal and we will continue to support their work on behalf of Florida and our hardworking taxpayers.”