weather unavailableweather unavailable
Make us your home page

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Visit Florida's rude reception



Two senators voiced outrage Tuesday upon learning that the state's tax-assisted tourism promotion firm, Visit Florida, hired a call center in Kansas City to promote Florida as a tourist destination. Visit Florida officials said they'd decided to fire the low-bidding firm, USA 800, before they were roasted by a Senate committee, but that was little consolation to lawmakers who said those jobs would have come in handy in Florida.

"Oh, boy. Oh, boy," said Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, chairman of the Senate budget committee that oversees tourism spending. "You have a call center in Kansas City using our tax dollars." Miami Republican Alex Diaz de la Portilla chimed in, firing a volley of questions at Visit Florida's chief executive, Bud Nocera.

Nocera said hiring a midwestern company made sense because it distributes a massive amount of mail to would-be Florida vacationers all over the country. The Visit Florida team's reception was only slight more hospitable before a House committee on Tuesday afternoon. Said Rep. Greg Evers: "Even though we love Kansas City vendors for taking our money, we need the jobs in Florida. If somebody has to be on the other end of the phone, I would rather it be somebody from Florida."   

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 3:20pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours