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Florida’s tourism industry is a key driver of our $1.23 trillion economy and, despite largely closed borders to international tourists, Florida had a higher turnout of visitors in quarter two of 2021 than we did in the same time frame of 2019, pre-COVID. VISIT FLORIDA’s aggressive marketing campaigns across the country promoting Florida as being “open for business” contributed significantly to this growth. We here in Southwest Florida benefited greatly from the robust presence VISIT FLORIDA projected.

The Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation, better known as VISIT FLORIDA, is an essential component in promoting Florida’s tourism brand to national and international travelers. In a 2021 analysis by EDR (the Office of Economic & Demographic Research) for every $1 spent on VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing efforts, the state received $3.27 back in tax revenue.

VISIT FLORIDA provides a tremendous value to the state and, because of the tourism dollars Florida generates annually, we are one of only eight states in the nation without a state income tax. Investing in marketing Florida means saving Florida taxpayers money every year – money they can then reinvest into Florida’s thriving economy.
Thanks to prior actions taken by the legislature, funding for VISIT FLORIDA was extended until October 1, 2023. SB 434 and HB 489 would continue the existence of this key program through 2028.

Continuing VISIT FLORIDA is vital to the local and Florida’s business community as a whole because it maintains the state’s tourism marketing arm, widely promoting Florida as a top destination for visitors. To help the state, local governments, and small businesses recover from the pandemic, VISIT FLORIDA marketed Florida as “open for business.” This effort and partnership have been key to regrowing Lee County’s and Florida’s overall tourism industry and rebounding Florida’s economy.

I want to thank Sen. Ed Hooper and Rep. Linda Cheney for advancing this important economic development legislation, which will have long-lasting benefits on you, me, and our business climate in Southwest Florida.

Similarly, I encourage you to contact our lawmakers and ask for their support in protecting VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing efforts.

John Lai
Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer
Member, VISIT FLORIDA Board of Directors

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