Florida gets about 87 million visitors a year. The nonprofit research group Florida Taxwatch wanted to know what would happen to the economy if that number reached 100 million.
The group did a study. The results suggest 121-thousand jobs would be created and other good things would happen to the economy.
So, the report recommends that the Legislature allocate more money for advertising.
The study’s main author, Dr. Jerry Parrish, says the state needs to lure more visitors and keep them here longer because they pay sales tax.
“Remember that every time they buy a meal, spend something shopping, stay in a hotel, that Florida state general revenue benefits 6 percent on each of those kind of transactions,” Parrish says. “About 73 or 74 percent of general revenue is generated by these kind of sales and use taxes.”
Parrish says tourism is the number one provider of jobs in the state, and tourists put a big chunk of money into local and state revenues by paying taxes on merchandise and hotel rooms.
“One of the important things especially for Miami is the international visitors, and of course we love those because they come and spend a lot of money,” Parrish says. “Miami certainly has got the highest percentage of international visitors of anybody.”
Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith says Florida has stiff competition from overseas destinations like Dubai and needs to keep the ad money coming.
He says the Legislature could dedicate a small portion of sales taxes collected at Florida attractions to pay for more advertising worldwide.
“When Europeans and others are talking about Florida and what a great place Florida is and ‘I want to go to Florida,’ it's because we have great venues,” Smith says. “Those people come and they spend dollars here, and it has built our economy here.”
The state's official tourism marketing corporation, Visit Florida, receives funding from the state and the private sector. The amount it receives from the state changes each year.