Guest opinion: Supporting Florida’s tourism industry is critical

Florida’s tourism industry was hardest hit by a pandemic that brought many tourism…

Guest opinion: Supporting Florida's tourism industry is critical 1

Tourist Development Taxes are a critical part of our community’s economic recovery and provide the necessary funds we use to help promote our area. Now, as our industry works hard to recovery from a global pandemic, is not the time for our leaders to sweep money from this fund and put our economic recovery in peril once more.

The Florida Legislature has heard two bills, HB 1429/SB 2008, which would do just that by opening the door so that Tourist Development Taxes could be diverted away from their intended use.

Our local area, like so many others, has suffered immensely during the pandemic. The down-turn in the Hospitality and Tourism Industries during this pandemic has been unprecedented.

Our efforts have been focused on the safety and welfare of our guests, team members and their loved ones. Among other precautions, we adopted disinfecting and sanitizing protocols that enhance our already strong hygiene and cleanliness standards. Contactless check-in and digital key guest room entry are now in use and options for contactless food delivery is the norm.

We worked in tandem with professionals to ensure our guests would be kept safe when they chose to travel once more. And, thanks to the hard work of our local destination marketing organization, we have been able to welcome visitors back to our hotel and our community. Thanks to their diligent sharing of information with local businesses and with visitors, the Industry is rebounding as we launch into spring and summer.

It’s important to note that our visitors contribute a great deal to the health of our local economy. They shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants and cafes, support area attractions, enjoy our performing and visual arts opportunities, and take part in our area’s nightlife. Tourism promotion informs people about our destination and attracts visitors.

Florida’s tourism industry was hardest hit by a pandemic that brought many tourism related business to a complete halt. Each year, we fight to keep our leaders from sweeping the Tourist Development Taxes by reminding them that our industry creates jobs, opportunities, and is a foundation of our state’s economic health. This year, we shouldn’t have to continue having this fight. Instead, our leaders should be working with us to ensure that our local communities and our state can continue to recover and thrive. 

I urge the members of the House and Senate to vote down HB 1429 and SB 2008, and instead help support Florida’s tourism industry.


Clark Hill is the General Manager at the Hilton Naples

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