The state-funded tourism agency Visit Florida survived a potential death this week, with lawmakers deciding to fund it for one more year.
But it’s getting a big budget cut. Lawmakers are assigning it $50 million for the next fiscal year, $26 million less than Gov. Ron DeSantis asked for in his budget.
The amount is a compromise between the Senate and the House, where Speaker José Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, said he wanted to kill the state’s tourism arm outright.
He saw it as a waste of money when companies like Disney already do their own marketing for Florida, where tourism is one of the state’s main economic drivers.
“In a trillion-dollar economy, a few million dollars put towards advertising a few different places cannot possibly have a direct correlation with tourism,” Oliva said last week.
The agency did itself no favors the last few years after spending millions on several controversial promotions, including $11.6 million to sponsor a cooking show hosted by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse and $1 million for Miami rapper Pitbull to promote Florida in videos and on social media.
The agency is now set to expire on June 30, 2020, unless lawmakers next year decide to keep paying for it.