As dust settles from a contentious legislative debate over the future of the state’s Visit Florida tourism agency, the Monroe County Tourist Development Council soon will re-enlist as a partner in the statewide program.
The Florida Keys TDC has been listed in news accounts as one of 13 regional tourism agencies that “cut ties” with Visit Florida. Some regional groups may have been concerned over new mandates from the Florida Legislature about increased financial transparency in the public-private partnership.
In Monroe County’s case, it was a pause in renewing a $6,000 annual partnership agreement because Visit Florida’s marketing plan released in July lacked specifics on what cooperative programs were being offered, TDC spokesman Andy Newman said Tuesday. Those program details usually are available in May.
The delayed renewal “had absolutely nothing to do with any concerns about our transparency,” Newman said. “We told [Visit Florida] that it was our intent all along to partner with them but not until we knew what cooperative programs we would be buying into. It’s about being financially responsible.”
An updated Visit Florida marketing plan received about two weeks ago provides more detail on cooperative programs for the coming year, Newman said.
“Now there’s enough there to say we’re going to partner” with Visit Florida, he said.
The state agency “helps us stretch our marketing dollars and provides penetration into some markets we want to tap, like China,” Newman said. “For the last couple of years, we have depended on Visit Florida to handle our marketing in China.”
Visit Florida also books exhibit space at worldwide travel shows at rates that make it more affordable for the Keys to participate. Monroe County was a founding member of Visit Florida, Newman noted.
The state agency came under fire in the 2017 session of the Florida Legislature. House leaders wanted to slash funding for the 21-year-old program, which was defended by Gov. Rick Scott. The sides later agreed to a renewed $76 million annual allocation in return for more financial transparency from the program and its affiliated partners.
Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206