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Well...They Did It

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAQKAAAAJGZlYjkxOTVjLWZmMWMtNGViNS04ODNkLTJiYWU4N2UzMjk5OAOnce the big kids in the Florida Senate caved and agreed to a compromise regarding Visit Florida with the children over in the House, all hope was lost. And, I could hear it in the e-mails and texts from friends and colleagues over the weekend. Incredulous disbelief.

In a fit of childish retribution for the alleged sins of a very few, Florida's entire Tourism industry will now be made to suffer with a quarter of the advertising muscle requested by the Governor and be strangled with a litany of regulations that will make even the easiest of marketing plays next to impossible.

Brian London (editor of TravelSmartNews) said it best this morning as the finality of the vote to approve the compromise set in: 

"It is difficult to put my thoughts about VISIT FLORIDA funding into just one paragraph.  The theme of what I could write is easily summarized: “there are no points for being right.”  That tourism is a social good – with a positive economic impact – and all stakeholders benefit when tourism promotion is adequately funded – was a message that ultimately didn’t resonate. 

"Where does the industry go from here?  It’s clear that we’ve entered the “the weaponization of travel” era.  Legislators and special interest groups can’t help but to feel emboldened, and will continue to pull at the loose strings within tourism marketing and operations.  The industry must push forward (never retreat!), continue to communicate with elected officials and their staff (especially at the local level), continue to build relationships with stakeholders (corporate hotel chains, small businesses, local chambers) and most importantly, continue to share the benefits that tourism promotion agencies bring to the community. Not all benefits can be reduced to an ROI number.  We must add personal stories and narratives to our toolkit."

In the end, the "weaponization of travel" only stops if workers in the hospitality industry vote. All of us. Every legislator that voted against funding Visit Florida is counting on that not happening...because it rarely (if ever) has.

This is about jobs and quality of life. And, if that's not enough to organize a serious response in the next election, I guess I don't know what is.

Even if the Governor successfully vetoes the Visit Florida cuts and language, this industry must aggressively prepare for the next attack.

Because, you know it's coming.

Bill Geist

Bill GeistBill Geist

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