Florida’s legislature recently caved in to pressure from Gov. Rick Scott and Florida’s travel and tourism industry to approve restoring Visit Florida’s $76 million budget. However, it appears the move has created unanticipated problems.
Saga in the Sun
Several major destination marketing organizations are bailing on Visit Florida, which had already lost its CEO and about 15 senior sales, marketing, and operations executives since December 2016, according to a trade publication specializing in association and DMO news.
The saga began with the forced resignation of Will Seccombe, ousted as president and CEO of the public-private sector organization. This was prompted over a $1 million dollar contract with a celebrity rapper, Pitbull, whose #LoveFL efforts included a “Sexy Beaches” video of women in swimsuits. (See The Travel Vertical, 12/20/2016). The latest executives to resign were Shari Bailey, international marketing program director and Alfredo Gonzalez, vice president of global meetings and trade.
Requirements put in place by legislators during the funding debate over Visit Florida call for member organizations receiving more than half of their funds from public sources must report all public and private financial data to lawmakers, including salaries of employees and board members from both public and private sources. (See The Travel Vertical, 6/13/2017)
Stephen Lawson, vice president of government relations for Visit Florida, told USAE News that 11 Visit Florida members have “opted out” of the organization. These include: the Greater Miami CVB, Visit Orlando, Visit Tampa Bay, Experience Kissimmee, Discover the Palm Beaches, Florida Keys Tourist Development Council, Visit South Walton and DMOs representing Santa Rosa, Brevard, Franklin and Seminole counties.
Read the report in USAE News here.