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Corcoran Lays the Law Down to 12 Maverick Tourism Agencies

August 26, 2017 - 6:00am

House Speaker Richard Corcoran wants a dozen local tourist-development councils that have broken ties with Visit Florida --- over new state rules Corcoran helped impose --- to outline how they spend tax dollars.

Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, sent a sharply worded letter Friday to 12 regional tourism councils, saying the House still has the authority to review their books when it comes to taxpayer money.

“This attempt to shield financial information from public scrutiny required by the transparency and accountability provisions of House Bill 1A is not acceptable,” Corcoran said in his letter, referring to a bill that passed during a special legislative session in June.

In the bill, lawmakers established new rules for the state public-private agencies Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida. The rules included disclosure requirements for regional tourism boards participating in a state program known as the “Targeted Marketing Assistance Program.”

The boards would have to make public local operating budgets and travel and entertainment expenses and provide details of salaries and benefits of staff and board members tied to public and private funds.

The change resulted in 12 agencies cutting ties with Visit Florida: Visit Tampa Bay, Visit South Walton, Visit Orlando, the Amelia Island CVB, the Brevard County Tourism Office, Discover The Palm Beaches, Experience Kissimmee, the Florida Keys & Key West Tourist Development Council, the Franklin County TDC, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, Orlando North Seminole County Tourism and the Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Office.

Representatives for councils reached Friday said they had not seen the letter and could not immediately comment.

“Local tourism marketing organizations already operate under multiple layers of transparency and accountability and are happy to comply with these measures,” Robert Skrob, the association’s executive director, said in a prepared statement. “As responsible stewards of local tax dollars, every destination marketing organization has the obligation to ensure any dollars spent on tourism promotion will yield the best return on investment for their community.”

Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, has said lawmakers will need to review the changes that created fissures between the state tourism-marketing agency and regional tourism groups.

Latvala has also alleged that the changes were more about scoring political headlines than effective legislation.

“In the case of that bill, and the House of Representatives' efforts in the whole economic-development and tourism area, it was all about making political points, all about trying to make headlines, trying to raise your name identification, whatever,” Latvala said during an appearance Aug. 4 in Blountstown. “And what we've done is make a product that is going to be very hard to implement.”

“And I'm sure we're going to have to come back next year and work on it a little bit,” Latvala continued. “I don't know the House speaker understands that or frankly cared. That's the same House speaker who introduced a bill that would have eliminated Visit Florida, eliminated Enterprise Florida, eliminated every other economic, 18 other economic-development programs we have in Florida. And I'm not sure he cares.”

Latvala is running for governor in 2018, while Corcoran is considering a run.

Corcoran estimated the 12 local agencies collect about $585 million a year in bed tax dollars, about 62 percent of money collected from tourists in the state.

Corcoran said in his letter the new requirements are “not onerous.”

In a statement accompanying the letter, Corcoran added that the tourist development councils are “sadly mistaken” if they think they can “hide from transparency.”


ALL MONIES THAT GO TO GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE 100% Auditable and Transparent to Any Taxpaying Citizen of that State. As for "Swamps", Florida has a HUGE one Tallahassee. Somebody, PLEASE tape Latvala's mouth shut.

little napoleon strikes again. You can't spend your local money unless I say so, and some of that money is going to have to go to my wife's charter schools...

Because of "Visit Florida" and "Enterprise Florida", our peninsula is overrun and overwhelmed by overindulgent "tourists" who have absolutely no regard, nor concern, for health safety (read: garbage/trash disposal on public lands); traffic laws; occupancy rates; other peoples' property and property rights; beach safety and stewardship; and overall disregard & disdain for Florida's Resident CITIZENS. ALL of these "results" are also the "fault" of Florida's politicians and vendors of all sorts (including real estate "blonde princesses"), to whom "THE DOLLAR COMES FIRST"! "Tourism" is no longer "seasonal", but rather "constant", with no respite from "tourist" anger, arrogance, bad manners, and an ("I paid for this, so GET OUT OF MY FACE!") combative attitude. In the constant pursuit & quest for the "DOLLAR", Florida's "political elitist class", "Lobbys", "Better Business Bureau" and the "business community" (in general), are in a self-defeating race to "KILL THE GOOSE THAT LAID THE GOLDEN EGG"! [Once this "killing" begins to "take its toll", EVERYTHING changes for the worst (just like 2009 when the economy 'tanked', and all the "blonde real estate princesses (both female & male)" had to give up their "Lexuses & Mercedes" and became Walmart & Home Depot checkout attendants and stock-boys). A little introspection here is overdue Floridians (starting with choices made in YOUR voting booth, and choices made in your shopping and restaurant habits): Florida's beauty depends upon YOUR stewardship of THAT beauty!

sensing some jealousy from the trailer park tourist from NY. What would you know about FL idiot? Go back to NY and live off their teat instead of ours loser...

"trailer park tourist" - curious how you came to THAT conclusion. Do you KNOW this person? Don't suppose you are an FL native, either... Guess you don't like certain "classes" of people.

Add Citrus County BOCC/TDC since 2001-2017 have documentation to prove need to be audited been trying since 2006.

Latvala is posturing due to gubernatorial potential opponent. All of these TDCs need to have their expenditures fully exposed! How do we determine return on investment. I have a gut feeling that there is a lot of good ole boy selectively giving foreign travel boondoggles to the anointed. As well as paying senior staff and directors well above reasonable rates and expenses.

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