Flagler County Tourism Set for Stabilization in 2024

Flagler County Tourism Set for Stabilization in 2024

While the budget proposal from Gov. Ron DeSantis for next fiscal year is nearly $5 billion less than the current budget, at least Visit Florida officials can breathe easier – for now.

The proposed budget allocates $105 million for the state’s tourism development arm, one of the few agencies not to have a reduced allocation. However, Visit Florida has recently been in the crosshairs of state legislators and the annual legislative session is typically a nail-biter for tourism professionals.

That is good news for Flagler County tourism officials, who rely on the partnership with Visit Florida to promote the area to visitors.

“As a small destination, we are always judicious when it comes to managing and planning our budgets each fiscal year,” said Amy Lukasik, Flagler County tourism development director. “We depend on Visit Florida’s cooperative marketing programs to extend our advertising dollars and increase destination visibility. The funding of Visit Florida is crucial to our success and cutting funding reduces our ability to stretch our dollars and attract even more potential visitors.”

Lukasik said Visit Florida is a “vital” partner in the county’s tourism development efforts and the agency offers smaller destinations like Flagler significant help.

“Visit Florida supports smaller destinations in a multitude of ways,” she said. “From their cooperative marketing opportunities to their organized press trips, Visit Florida’s programs help level the playing field between our destinations and the more well-known ones throughout the state.”

Looking ahead to 2024, Lukasik said the coming year will be different from the past few years of travel enthusiasm.

“After the post-pandemic ‘tourism boom’ experienced in 2021 and 2022, we saw a stabilization of sorts – with slight increases – over the last fiscal year,” she said. “Our outlook for 2024 is a continuation of that, with travel returning to pre-pandemic levels.”

That is much the same perspective as Lukasik’s counterpart in Volusia County, where Lori Campbell Baker heads the Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“We’ve had a couple of spectacular years of record-setting gains in the Daytona Beach area, and now we’re seeing those levels normalize,” Campbell Baker said. “These trends are being seen not only in our destination but throughout the state of Florida and even the rest of the United States.”

Looking ahead to 2024, Campbell Baker said the period will be a “reset year” for tourism, but she is confident the area will fare well over the next 12 months.