Proposed State Budget Earmarks Increase for Tourism, Economic Development

Proposed State Budget Earmarks Increase for Tourism, Economic Development

While the budget proposal from Gov. Ron DeSantis for the 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.

The assistance Visit Florida provides to Daytona Beach and Volusia County with marketing and promotion efforts is an important piece of the tourism development puzzle, said Lori Campbell Baker, executive director at the Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“We’re always glad to see support for Visit Florida since their programs help us stretch our dollars,” Campbell Baker said.

The partnership with Visit Florida is important to local tourism development efforts because it supports a range of local efforts, Campbell Baker said.

“With its wealth of resources and programs, Visit Florida plays an integral role in supporting the tourism efforts of the Daytona Beach Area CVB,” she said. “Visit Florida’s co-op advertising opportunities are critical in extending the reach of our advertising dollars. The Welcome Centers, public relations, and groups and meetings support, and its website, are just a few of the other tools that provide support to our initiatives to attract visitors to the destination.”

The support will be even more important as the overall tourism outlook has slowed from the post-pandemic boom.

“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.”

That perspective echoes what Flagler County tourism officials are expecting from the coming year.

Flagler County Tourism Development Director Amy 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.”

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.

“We have strong programs and initiatives in place on both the leisure and group sales sides to help us combat any headwinds we face,” she said.

Some of the new features for the destination include the completed Riverfront Esplanade along Beach Street, the coming Daytona Aquarium and Rainforest Adventure, air service with new carrier Avelo Airlines and the opening of the Renaissance by Marriot hotel.