TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- Florida lawmakers are hoping to share a little more sunshine with tourists by boosting funding to promote the state's tourism industry.
VISIT FLORIDA, the state's official tourism marketing organization, will get an additional $10.5 million dollars next fiscal year, growing their annual budget to an all-time high of $74 million. This funding is part of the new record-setting $77.1 billion budget passed by state lawmakers on Friday.
In addition to marketing the state's general tourism industry, $5 million will be used to market medical tourism and $1.3 million will be used to promote the Sunshine State to veterans and active duty military.
"The fact that VISIT FLORIDA funding has more than doubled in the last four years is a clear indication that our state leaders recognize the importance of tourism and our industry's role in strengthening the Florida economy and creating jobs for Floridians," said Will Seccombe, President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA. "It is also a strong endorsement of the industry-driven nature of our public/private partnership and our success in generating a substantial return on the state's investment in VISIT FLORIDA's cooperative marketing programs."
The funding is still shy of the $100 million Governor Rick Scott had proposed lawmakers budget for the agency in better hopes of reaching their goal of reaching 100 million visitors in Florida this year. That goal may be close. Last year Florida counted 94.7 million visitors.
"In 2013, Florida experienced a third consecutive record year for tourism with nearly 95 million visitors," said Governor Scott's spokesman John Tupps. "It's important to all Floridians that we continue to invest in VISIT FLORIDA to ensure we continue to attract even more visitors and grow more jobs for Florida families."
The Governor's office estimates every 85 visitors to the state helps create one job.