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Visit Florida Slashes Staff

May 24, 2019
@pitbull / Twitter

Visit Florida cut one-third of its staff Thursday, slashing its payroll after the state Legislature cut funding for the tourism agency by 34 percent. 

More visitors are coming to the sunshine state, according to new figures released by the state. But the state is losing ground on tourists from out of the country.

Florida announced today that 35.7 million visitors came to Florida in the first quarter – a new record.

“As we work to diversify Florida’s economy, it is critical that we keep visitation to Florida, and the revenue it generates, healthy and robust,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis in a press release.

Visit Florida Signs Off On Budget Cuts

May 16, 2019

Faced with a “prove-it” year to state lawmakers, the board of Florida’s tourism-marketing arm on Wednesday approved a 30 percent payroll cut.

A reluctant Visit Florida Board of Directors agreed to slash payroll by $3.65 million, and strategic marketing by $17.8 million, with an acknowledgement the agency must do a better job of selling itself to lawmakers, particularly in the House, which sought to eliminate the public-private agency during this year’s legislative session.

Visit Florida survived in the session -- but took a 34 percent funding cut.

@pitbull / Twitter

Legislative budget negotiators have reached a deal to extend the life of the Visit Florida tourism agency, which had been set to expire in October. 

Florida’s tourism and marketing agency could be going away if the Florida House has its way. It comes as tourism remains the state’s dominant industry, and the state continues recovering from toxic algae blooms and hurricanes. 

Tourists at Clearwater Beach.
WUSF Public Media

Tourism is a vital industry for our state, and Florida Matters is taking a look at how businesses fared in the wake of red tide, what's new with our theme parks, and where tourism is heading after another record-breaking year.


Firestone Grand Prix St. Petersburg Facebook page

For the fifteenth year, the Grand Prix is back with its 1.8-mile, 14-turn, waterfront circuit through the streets of St. Petersburg.

According to Kim Green, Chairman and CEO of Firestone Grand Prix St. Petersburg, the race is the largest spectator event in Pinellas County each year and is expected to rev up the economy.

Lisa Peakes/WUSF Public Media

Florida tourism officials say a record number of visitors came to the state last year. 

The business community in Florida is monitoring the Brexit turmoil across the pond.

 

This week, British lawmakers rejected a deal to leave the European Union. The United Kingdom is facing a March 29 deadline without a clear direction.

Kristen Hare

The holidays are coming up, and a new book shows that Tampa Bay area residents don't have to go too far to get a vacation experience.  

Tourism Marketing Backed After Hurricane, Red Tide

Oct 31, 2018

The state’s tourism-marketing arm wants to send a message to potential visitors: Hurricane damage and fish-killing red tide don’t cover all of the Sunshine State.

Tourists at Clearwater Beach.
WUSF Public Media

Pinellas County, a popular travel destination in Florida, will be receiving more tax dollars from tourists as the Pinellas County Tax Collector’s Office partners with various travel agencies.

The Sanibel and Captiva Chamber of Commerce reports businesses on the two islands lost $19 million in just July and August. Thursday, US Senator Bill Nelson met with business owners to talk about solutions. 

Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

Florida Matters recently moderated a panel discussion at the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs called "Arts Mecca: International Cultural Tourism in the Sunshine City." We talked with experts about how to draw culture-lovers from around the world to the Tampa Bay area.

This week on Florida Matters we'll hear highlights from that conversation.


Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

Florida Matters recently hosted a panel discussion in front of a live audience at the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs. We talked with experts about how the Tampa Bay Area is becoming a cultural mecca for international tourists.

We’ll hear highlights from that conversation on this week’s episode.


Bay News 9

Florida is still getting a record number of tourists even though the state was hit by a devastating hurricane.

In some parts of the Keys, people are still salvaging what they can of their belongings, or figuring out where they will live.

In Key West, local and state leaders gathered Wednesday to send one message: they are open for business.

"Restaurants are open. Hotels are open. Every tourist in the country, in the world, needs to come back to Key West and the Florida Keys," said Gov. Rick Scott.

He spoke at an oceanfront hotel flanked by Key West officials and tourism promoters who were carrying conch shells and waving Conch Republic flags.

Florida Prepares For Tourism Season After Irma

Oct 2, 2017

Two months from now, the Atlantic hurricane season ends, just as Florida’s tourism season begins.

Gov. Rick Scott announced last month that Florida had the highest number of visitors in a six-month period in its history. Nearly 61 million people visited the state in the first half of 2017.

Hurricane Irma’s state-engulfing radar signature and widespread damage will be a hard image to shake, but tourism experts say Florida’s biggest industry will rebound.

Wikimedia Commons

As Hurricane Irma approaches Florida, tourism-related businesses are preparing for a potentially catastrophic impact.

Visit Florida Facebook page

Florida's tourism marketing agency paid nearly $441,000 in employee bonuses this summer despite months of scrutiny from legislators over spending.

Photo: ucobserver.org

The number of tourists visiting Florida continues to grow.

Mary Shedden / WUSF Public Media

Tourism brought in an estimated $109 billion a year to Florida at last count. This week on Florida Matters we’re taking a look at the current state of Florida’s number one industry.


Renata Sago / WMFE

A record 43.1 million passengers passed through Orlando International Airport in the past year. The latest data show domestic travel climbed 5.95 percent, with more than 37 million people moving through the airport. International traffic also grew to 5.7 million passengers, a 4.45 percent increase from a year ago.

Visit Florida Facebook page

This week on Florida Matters we're talking about the latest in tourism. The state's number one industry was at the center of a battle during this past legislative session.


Florida Surpasses Texas In Airport Passengers

Jul 18, 2017
Tampa International Airport

Gov. Rick Scott spent the past week touting the state's move ahead of Texas in the overall number of passengers boarding airplanes.

Scott Signs Economic Development, School Funding BIlls

Jun 27, 2017
Office of the Governor

Gov. Rick Scott signed 29 bills late Monday, including measures boosting spending on education, tourism marketing and economic development.

Marc Haze / WUSF News

It's that time of year to hit the beach and soak up some rays, but in some areas erosion means there's not a lot of places to build a sand castle.

A bill awaiting Gov. Scott's signature - or possible veto - would mean $50 million for beach renourishment. This week on Florida Matters we'll talk about whether that funding is enough to tackle the issue of beach erosion across the state.


A new study shows shark-related diving in Florida is a growing business, generating some $221 million annually for shops and other providers.

One of the big debates taking shape this legislative session is about state involvement in economic development. The capitol’s powerbrokers are picking sides in the battle, which is threatening to derail session before it even begins.

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