Local TDC members concerned about proposed state bill

A Florida House subcommittee is working on a bill that could impact tourist development councils across the state.
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 6:35 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Local Tourist Development Council leaders aren’t happy about a bill being proposed by the Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee.

“The state legislature on Friday dropped a bill in the State House that would fundamentally change how destination marketing organizations work in the state of Florida including Visit Florida and the local TDCs,” Bay County TDC Executive Director Dan Rowe said.

Rowe said some of the changes are not good for our area. So he, along with other county TDC officials across the state, went to Tallahassee this week to speak with legislators about the proposed bill.

“The Florida house, they listened. You know, they passed the bill out of their committee to move it on. But we think we were able to make some progress in helping them to understand the issues that we face,” Rowe said.

Issues like potential impacts to destination marking across the state.

“It puts in some radical language about the future of Visit Florida and how it most likely will go away after three years. But the state does need to have a coordinated effort to make sure we are telling our story,” Rowe said.

Another issue officials have with the proposed bill involves the Tourist Development Tax.

“It puts into place a 6-year sunset on the tourist development tax unless there is a referendum with the local voters. You know, the voters have already spoken that they wanted tourist development tax in Panama City Beach, Panama City, and Mexico Beach and it is working very well. With this language, that funding could possibly go away in 6 years,” Rowe said.

If that funding goes away, the burden would fall on the residents to help pay for things like beach renourishment and beach maintenance.

“It would also take away the ability for the TDC to help fund public safety again pushing that burden to the local residents,” Rowe said.

Rowe says he is hopeful after speaking with representatives that they will change parts of the bill. For now, he says, they’ll just have to wait and see what happens next.