Guest View: Visit Florida puts Pandhandle gems on map
Op-ed: Commissioner Adam Putnam
March 22, 2017
Last year, more than 112 million visitors came to Florida and spent $109 billion during their time in the Sunshine State. These dollars are spent at hotels, restaurants and attractions, among other Florida businesses, where more than 1.4 million Floridians are employed. This record was, in part, achieved by the reputation of our white, sandy beaches, family-friendly attractions and warm hospitality. But many of Florida’s destinations would have remained unknown without the advertising and promotions by the state’s tourism agency, Visit Florida, under the focused leadership of Governor Rick Scott.
Visit Florida has helped put the gems of Northwest Florida on the radar of curious tourists looking for lesser known places to explore and enjoy while recharging their batteries during their annual vacation. Places like the Perdido River Paddling Trail and Pensacola Beach Boardwalk don’t always come to mind when families are brainstorming where to go. These destinations are highlighted as go-to places by Visit Florida’s promotions, along with many other special, yet lesser known parts of Florida.
Northwest Florida has been dealt a number of blows in recent years. Tourism took a dive during the Great Recession, and then the BP oil spill threatened to damage the natural beauty this area is so well known for. But, recently, the courts directed BP to contribute $300 million toward economic development in Northwest Florida and another $1.4 billion more over the next 14 years.
Tourism, agriculture and the military have long-anchored the Northwest Florida economy. We shouldn’t stop promoting the Emerald Coast – and just assume families will continue to come. We need to toot our own horn loudly and proudly about what Florida has to offer.
Adam Putnam is Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture.