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Robert Trigaux

Florida's liquid freebies going down drain



Orangejuicevisitflorida I know, I know. In a smacked economy such as ours, there are sure the be disturbances in the financial force. But these are Florida-altering events and can leave you thirsty! First InBev, the new Belgian owners of Anheuser-Busch Cos., said Monday that Busch Gardens will end a 50-year tradition and stop handing out free beer samples. As reported by the St. Petersburg Times, the taps will stop flowing Jan. 25. The company's nine other theme parks, including SeaWorld in Orlando, will also stop pouring in the coming weeks.

Now comes a second slap in the face of liquid freebies. News reports say Florida may shut down its welcome centers that serve free orange juice and could also sharply curtail television ads aimed at propping up the Sunshine State’s summer vacation season. Lawmakers are considering steep cuts to Visit Florida, the public-private program that promotes tourism, to help avoid a budget deficit of at least $2.3-billion. Proposals call for cutting Visit Florida’s budget by as much as $13-million, nearly 40 percent of the organization’s state dollars.

What's next, the end of free water? Never mind. That notion disappeared long, long ago.

(OJ photo courtesy of Visit Florida.)

-- -Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:23am]


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