On Wednesday January 20th, a contingency of leaders from Film Florida traveled to Tallahassee to attend Tourism Day. Each year, Florida’s tourism partners host the event to educate the legislature, media and Floridians on the significant role tourism plays in the success of our state’s economy.

The early welcome session drew more than 500 industry attendees featuring Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera; Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam; Attorney General Pam Bondi; Senator Jack Latvala and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater to name a few. Film Florida President Michelle Hillery and Florida’s major tourism partners such as Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association; Will Seccombe, President & CEO of VISIT FLORIDA and Robert Skrob, Executive Director of Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations effectively communicated the importance of tourism in our state and addressed each of their legislative priorities for this year’s legislative session.

Key stakeholders who joined this effort include: Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, VISIT FLORIDA, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Attractions Association, Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations, Florida Association of Museums, Film Florida, Florida Sports Foundation, Florida Vacation Rental Managers Association, and the Florida Cattlemen’s Association.

Compliments to our outstanding Government Relations team, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners LLC. Specifically Slater Bayliss and Sarah Busk. Effective meetings were held throughout the day with key legislators in reference to where current bill language stands, new dynamic scoring results of a program that gets us a dollar to dollar return on investment, job and economic impact losses, the status of our competitors, and methods of strategically supporting a statewide program with ROI methodologies for the film, television and digital media industry. Meetings were held with our champions Senator Nancy Detert and Representative Mike Miller; Frank Collins (Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Scott); Representative George Moraitis; Representative Clay Ingram; Representative Matt Gaetz; Representative Holly Raschein; Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli; Representative Mike LaRosa,; Representative Jose Felix Diaz; Cissy Proctor (Executive Director of the Department of Economic Opportunity) and Representative Jim Boyd. Each meeting was incredibly informative and effective. Our industry is in a great position heading into legislative session.

The following morning, Senate Bill 1646 was workshopped in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development, chaired by Senator Jack Latvala. Film Florida attended and provided a public testimony expressing gratitude for the support of Senator Detert and Senator Latvala for including industry language within the Economic Development Package. During the discussion of the film portion of Senator Latvala’s Economic Development package, Senator Latvala stated, “To the best of my ability, any bill that passes the Florida Senate that has to do with economic development is also going to include provisions related to the TV and film incentive program.” This bill will be heard in its first committee (Commerce and Tourism, chaired by Senator Detert) on Monday, January 25th at 1:00pm.

Film Florida continues to monitor things closely and receives regular briefings from our legislative champions and government relations team. If a call to action is required prior to the meeting, we will send out an e-mail blast and post on our social media platforms. If you do not already like Film Florida on Facebook or follow @FilmFlorida on Twitter, please do so now.

There are 49 days left in the 2016 legislative session. Our goal is to remain on point, on message and continue working towards our single, unified goal of getting a long-term program passed that will help our industry retain and increase jobs for our industry in Florida. 

Florida’s Tourism Day should be considered a huge success towards our industry’s efforts and goals. Thank you for your continued support!