March 13, 2013
The Sunshine State celebrated Florida Tourism Day today with a day of legislative advocacy in the state capital, Tallahassee, aimed at making sure the legislature knows just how important tourism is to state and to lobby for an increase in marketing funding.

The day’s blitz of the capitol building was organized by the Partnership for Florida’s Tourism, an umbrella group that includes VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation, the Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations, the Florida Attractions Association, and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, as well as the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

The Partnership’s website,, has a number of tools, including suggested talking points and legislator contact information. 

This is the kind of local legislative action the U.S. Travel Association has been urging both the meetings and broader hospitality industry to prioritize since the launch of its Meetings Mean Business initiative several years ago, and most recently with its Travel Blitz campaign in February.

Last week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced that visitors spent $4.6 billion more in fiscal year 2012, an increase of 6.8 percent than in FY 2011. The governor proposed a $75 million marketing budget for VISIT FLORIDA in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. VISIT FLORIDA raises matching funds, and brought in $95 million in FY 2011, said Will Seccombe, its president and CEO.

“Last year, visitors spent over 500 million vacation nights and nearly $72 billion in the Sunshine State,” said Seccombe. “While it’s still very early in 2013, all indications are that VISIT FLORIDA is well positioned to build on the previous two years’ momentum as we strive to make Florida the No. 1 travel destination in the world.”

Seccombe also released a top 10 list of statistics that show why tourism is the number one industry in Florida:

  1. Florida welcomed a record 89.3 million visitors in 2012
  2. Those visitors spent a record $71.8 billion
  3. Tourism generates 23 percent of the state’s sales tax revenue
  4. More than one million Floridians are employed in the tourism industry
  5. Visitors spent over 500 million vacation nights in the Sunshine State in 2012
  6. On any given day, Florida has 1.6 million visitors
  7. That represents more people than live in 11 different U.S. states
  8. Florida visitors average spending $196 million a day
  9. Every 85 visitors to the state supports one tourism job
  10. For every $1 spent on tourism marketing, VISIT FLORIDA generates $258 in tourism spending and $15 in new sales tax collections