Gov. Rick Scott said he wants a big boost in the money spent on trying to lure more tourists to Florida, asking state legislators to set aside $100 million for Visit Florida, the agency responsible marketing the Sunshine State.
Scott made the announcement Friday at Orlando International Airport, saying he wants to make Florida the No. 1 tourist destination in the world.
The state's current budget has $63 million dedicated to Visit Florida. Lawmakers will consider the request this spring.
Scott said that prior increases have helped the state make large gains in the number of tourists coming to Florida. Last fall, Scott said he wanted 100 million people visit the state in 2014.
"We are on track for another record year, and we hope to build on this incredible momentum and make the Sunshine State the No. 1 travel destination in the world," Scott said in a statement Friday. "To do that, we are going to recommend an historic $100 million in our 'It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget' this year. Because every 85 visitors to our state supports one Florida job, a growing tourism industry equates to more jobs for Florida families and a stronger economy."
State numbers show Florida welcomed 72.6 million visitors during from January through September of 2013, an 3.4 increase over the same period the year before. Tourists spent $51.8 billion in Florida from January to August 2013, and the state added 29,700 travel-related jobs in that time period.
"On behalf of the statewide tourism industry, I am grateful to Gov. Scott for his recognition of Visit Florida's ability to provide a significant return on the state's investment in tourism marketing," said Visit Florida President and CEO Will Seccombe. "The governor's visionary leadership puts us in a position to make 2014 another record year for visitation and fuels the momentum that has Florida on track to become the No. 1 travel destination in the world."