Governor Rick Scott is touring Florida to go to bat for two agencies the state legislature is trying to do away with - Enterprise Florida, the state’s public-private economic development agency, and Visit Florida, the state's tourism-marketing arm.
At a roundtable meeting in Sunrise, Wednesday, Scott talked to a room full of local business leaders about the importance of hanging on to both.
“Your tourist economy was worth $8 billion dollars last year, just in Broward County. In this county, 113,000 jobs are tied to tourism,” Scott said.
He asked the crowd to put pressure on representatives to vote to keep the entities, and compared the state of Florida’s brand to Coca-Cola.
“Has anyone ever, has anybody ever heard of Coca Cola? Did they stop marketing once we knew their name? No, they didn’t stop marketing,” Scott said. “We are a tourism State. Tourist come down here, then they buy a house, then they don’t use it and pay our property taxes. It’s the greatest business model you can imagine.”
Ramola Motwani, CEO of Merrimac Ventures, was at the discussion. She owns real estate in Fort Lauderdale and shared the views of many others in the room.
She says she relies on tourism, and is afraid that business will go down if entities like Visit Florida disappear.
“They [the House Committee] need to fix it, not create a bigger problem, because this is our jobs,” Motwani said. “In Broward County, when we went through the down cycle, it was tourism that created more jobs.”
The speaker of the Florida House, Richard Corcoran, argues that the entities don’t add a significant impact on the state’s economy. The bill is scheduled for a vote by the House Appropriations Committee of next week.