Promoting Florida

By | Category: Travel news
Minnie & Micky Mouse

Mickey and Minnie may need to spend more money on promotion if Visit Florida disappears

Just like the UK, in America there is a national tourism promotion body – Brand USA – and then the states have their own tourism organisations. In the UK, VisitBritain promotes the UK abroad but Visit England, Visit Scotland and Visit Wales should only promote within the domestic markets.

But in the USA, states can promote internationally and many spend a lot of money encouraging us to travel to their states. But what happens if you close or are closed down?

Florida may be about to find out.

A bill has been passed in the Florida state legislature to discontinue funding of Visit Florida.

Why?

It seems largely due to the fact that the former boss of the tourist authority authorised a sum in excess of $1 million to rapper Pitbull to promote the state yet the deal was kept quiet despite public money being involved. When the news broke, the boss had to go, not just because of that but because there were concerns about how some of the money was spent like the $11.6 million that went to make a cooking show and $1.2 million support of Fulham Football Club where the stadium’s roof has the Visit Florida logo written on it because, it is claimed, it can be seen by planes on the landing approach to Heathrow.

The new boss says he will fight the move and the Governor of Florida has argued that removing funding would have an impact on Florida’s economic development. That funding is $76 million and it has asked for the same amount for the next financial year.  Opponents say that the money is a waste.

But isn’t Brand USA still promoting Florida? Given the large amount of cash they have access to and that they are promoting the state does it matter that Florida has no dedicated tourism body? What happens to the three or four million it gives to Brand USA? Will the marketing body refuse to promote Florida?

Why should this affect British visitors to the state? It may not since at consumer shows, Visit Florida doesn’t usually have much presence. But it does  tend to have a huge stand – often bigger than New York or California – at trade shows like World Travel Market in London, ITB in Berlin and Fitur in Madrid. If the trade doesn’t know about developments in Floridian tourism they can’t pass it on to us potential visitors.

Despite the political posturing, I’d bet that some deal will be made that allows Visit Florids to continue in one form or another.

NB: If you are interested in how a major state tourism body spends funds and operates there is a through story in the Naples Daily News which you can read by clicking here.

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