Florida’s Tourism Industry Applauds Governor Ron DeSantis’ Florida Leads Budget Recommendation for VISIT FLORIDA

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – This week, tourism leaders across the state applauded Governor Ron DeSantis’ $50 million budget recommendation for VISIT FLORIDA.

VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO Dana Young said, “Thank you to Governor Ron DeSantis for recognizing the vital role that VISIT FLORIDA will continue to play in the recovery of our state’s tourism industry and economy. Our work has never been more important than it is today for Florida’s families and businesses as we remain wholly focused on driving visitation to our state, supporting tourism jobs, and generating revenue for our communities.”

“On behalf of the entire tourism industry, we are grateful for the Governor’s funding recommendation for VISIT FLORIDA. Together with Governor DeSantis’ leadership, VISIT FLORIDA and our state’s tourism industry will not stop until Florida’s economy has fully recovered.”

Dan Rowe, Chairman of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors; President & CEO, Visit Panama City Beach, said, "We greatly appreciate Governor DeSantis’ support of VISIT FLORIDA and his continued investment in our state’s tourism marketing. Governor DeSantis understands that Florida’s economic recovery goes hand-in-hand with tourism, and this year’s budget recommendation will ensure that we can continue producing great work that delivers results for all 67 counties in Florida.”

Dave Reese, President of Florida’s First Coast of Golf, said, “Florida’s reputation as a premier golf destination is due in great measure to the visitors VISIT FLORIDA attracts, and their work is now more important than ever. Thank you, Governor DeSantis, for your continued investment in our state’s No.1 industry.”

Danny Gaekwad, Vice Chairman of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors; Owner, MGM Hotels, said, “Florida’s hotel industry has been absolutely devastated by COVID-19, and our recovery depends on VISIT FLORIDA’s ability to succeed. With Governor DeSantis’ funding recommendation and support, VISIT FLORIDA can keep working on behalf of every Floridian whose job was impacted by COVID-19, and lead Florida’s hotel sector back to success.”

Virginia Haley, Immediate Past Chairwoman of the VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors; President of Visit Sarasota County, said, “Governor DeSantis has always been such a tremendous advocate for Florida’s tourism industry, and his budget recommendation is welcome news for our communities that are hurting right now. We are incredibly grateful for Governor DeSantis and VISIT FLORIDA’s tireless efforts to get Florida’s top economic driver back on track.”

Achievements and Successes

  • Together with Governor Ron DeSantis, VISIT FLORIDA launched a multi-million-dollar marketing plan to encourage travel to the Sunshine State and support Florida's economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Targeting in-state and domestic travelers in key markets within 700 miles. VISIT FLORIDA's campaigns have accrued over 600 million impressions to date and demonstrate that Florida offers endless opportunities for a safe, memorable vacation.
  • Governor Ron DeSantis officially signed VISIT FLORIDA’s three-year legislative authorization with level, recurring funding of $50 million until 2023 into law, marking a tremendous win for Florida’s tourism industry and economy.
  • Corresponding with the launch of VISIT FLORIDA’s recovery campaigns in August and October, preliminary estimates show that 9 million more visitors traveled to Florida in Quarter 3 than Quarter 2 in 2020, representing an increase of over 71 percent.
  • VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing has helped boost Florida’s brand perception, with 55% of those who saw campaign ads in November agreeing that Florida “residents and visitors follow health and safety guidelines”, and 70% agreeing that Florida is “safe/secure”.
  • The effectiveness of VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing has also been further affirmed. Floridians who saw VISIT FLORIDA’s in-state digital advertisements were twice as likely to take a trip in Florida as those who didn’t see them. Out-of-state travelers who saw VISIT FLORIDA’s domestic digital advertisements were 1.7 times as likely to take a trip to Florida as those who didn’t see them.
  • VISIT FLORIDA launched #LoveFL to showcase what Floridians love most about our state. #LoveFL is the definitive source for discovery of unparalleled beaches, crystal blue springs, exotic flora and fauna, rich arts and history, and the hidden gems and experiences that make the Sunshine State truly shine. This community comprises nearly 600,000 Sunshine State advocates who share the millions of reasons to #LoveFL across social media.
  • To better understand and measure the impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s tourism industry, VISIT FLORIDA created a one-of-a-kind data dashboard to track key economic indicators and trends, including hotel demand, vacation rental bookings, airline capacity, and web traffic related to vacation planning. 
  • While travel remained halted by the pandemic this past spring, VISIT FLORIDA launched virtual Sunshine State ‘staycation’ experiences to keep Florida top of mind among future travelers.
  • To ensure Florida is in the best possible position when global travel resumes, VISIT FLORIDA has held more than 40 innovative virtual events in key international markets over the past several months, including the first-ever Florida Fest in the U.K. and additional events in Latin America.