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Public Support For Visit Florida Split

Dec 20, 2017

Just months after seeing the budget for the state tourism marketing agency cut to $75 million amid a cantankerous political fight, Gov. Rick Scott is asking again for a major boost.

His request for an additional $24 million in the 2018-19 year is already facing scrutiny from legislative committees. And an annual poll shows that residents also are split on the issue.

The USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey reports that 38 percent of Floridians feel reducing the amount of money on marketing state tourism is bad for the economy. But another third like the idea.

Susan MacManus is the project director and a University of South Florida political science professor. When the 1,215 Floridians were polled this summer about the issue, still another 28 percent said they don’t care one way or another.

“There is this frustration that all this talk is about things that don't directly benefit them, even though they indirectly probably would benefit,” she said.

The Sunshine State Survey is an annual poll of adults who live in Florida about economic, social and political issues. The question about the spending on Visit Florida, the state tourism marketing arm, stems in part from the contentious battle during the 2017 Legislature over the agency and Enterprise Florida, a taxpayer-funded incentive program for businesses.

MacManus said in most polls, a citizen’s support or opposition tends to reflect their financial status or a personal connection to an issue. The same held true with the question on tourism marketing.

The people who had no opinion mirrors a nationwide trend about how Americans feel about politics. A lot of people are just fed up, MacManus said.

“There’s a frustration, with people particularly from the middle- and lower-income bracket which look at Washington D.C. first, but Tallahassee also, and say why aren’t you really addressing the real problems that we have in our personal lives,” she said.