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Visit Florida's future at risk without state funding

The agency is in charge of attracting people to Florida
Posted at 4:18 AM, Mar 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-27 06:29:18-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — We all know Tourism is one of the biggest players in Florida's economy.

But the sun could be setting on Visit Florida this year if lawmakers don't approve state funding for the tourism marketing agency.

Visit Florida is in charge of attracting people to the Sunshine State and offering programs to help towns and cities attract visitors to their areas.

"Our dollars are limited with Leon County as a medium-sized destination. And what 'Visit Tallahassee' can do with their international platform is communicate our messages to millions of people in ways that we can't," said Director of Visit Tallahassee, Kerri Post.

Not only does Visit Florida run welcome centers across the state, it boosts tourism by attracting events from around the world.

"To get Tallahassee in front of hundreds of meeting planners to get them to consider to bring their event to Tallahassee, we could never do that on our own," said Post.

Visit Florida will dissolve in October if lawmakers don't approve funding. State representatives say they want to see that the agency benefits Florida.

Meanwhile, the Sunshine State, as well as Leon County, welcomed a record-breaking number of visitors in 2018 even with a hurricane hitting the Panhandle.

The local Panama City Beach division says Visit Florida was invaluable in sending that message.

Visit PCB told WTXL, "They provided $250k in emergency funding to help speed our recovery from Hurricane Michael. We believe and trust the legislature will see the value of Visit Florida and not allow it to sunset."

A proposed bill that would keep Visit Florida up and running, passed a house committee this week.

The senate is expected to vote on whether the tourism agency will stay open by the close of session, in early May.