BY: Jarone Ashkenazi
Despite debates over politics that arose from policies enacted by its Republican lawmakers, the summer travel season in Florida seems unphased.
The policies of Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Republican lawmakers have prompted civil rights groups to rethink their travels to Florida. Groups such as the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the L.G.B.T.Q. organization Equality Florida has all issued warnings for those coming to Florida.
Other minority groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), even issued a warning that “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans”. Only the second travel advisory in its 114-year history, the first coming in the summer of 2017 when Missouri lawmakers passed a bill rolling back state protections against discrimination.
Some of the socially conservative policies enacted by Governor DeSantis have included limiting gender and sex education and barring teaching of Advanced Placement African American history.
This led Disney to pause political donations in Florida, along with suing the governor and even scrapping a $1 billion development in Orlando.
A tourism titan in the United States, the state of Florida had 137.6 million visitors in 2022, the most in its history. The wave of tourist interest has crept into the first quarter of this year seeing 37.9 million people visit in the first three months.
Thanks in large part to the Walt Disney World® Resort in Orlando, FL, the city saw 74 million travelers in 2022, making it the most-visited city in the United States.
In 2021, visitors to the state supported nearly 2 million jobs and nearly $102 billion to Florida’s economy.
DeSantis and Dana Young, president and CEO of Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation, have called the opposition to new laws enacted as a “political stunt” and that it would have a negative impact on the hospitality professionals in Florida.
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