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House Approves VISIT FLORIDA Funding Amid Corona Virus Fears

March 11th, 2020 by Jake Stofan

Florida lawmakers are on track to keep the state’s lead tourism marketing agency alive until at least 2023.

It was slated to go dark July first.

The move comes as concerns grow about the impacts the coronavirus may have on the state’s tourism industry.

Tourism ranks as the states largest industry, bringing in $86 billion annually and employing 1.5 million.

Last year Visit Florida had to slash 30 percent of its staff after having its budget cut by $26 million.

It’s future appeared uncertain this Legislative session, until cases of COVID-19 began appearing in the state.

“It is important to have some mitigating voice out there so that people around the world have a realistic understanding of what is a threat and what isn’t,” said Senate President Bill Galvano.

As the bill to keep the agency alive until 2023 hit the House Floor, that selling point was reiterated.

“We surely need to look to our tourism marketing to see how we’re going to navigate this coming crisis,” said Rep. Joe Geller.

And the agency whose survival once was threatened by the powerful House Speaker, received only two no votes in the chamber.

The Senate had hoped to keep visit Florida through 2028, but the 2023 comprise offered by the House is likely to be accepted by the chamber.

House sponsor Rep. Mel Ponder expects the agency will be able to breathe a sigh of relief for the next few years

And the agency will have its work cut out for it.

“Currently of course with the coronavirus we’ve got to take it seriously and I believe Visit Florida will help play a role in terms of getting the word out,” said Ponder.

Visit Florida has already begun preparing for the corona virus, redirecting $377,000 intended for marketing in China to regions closer to the state where air travel may not be necessary.

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