State Tax Problems
Conventions Move Out of Florida, Tax and Tourism Concerns Arise
As sizable conventions leave the Sunshine State, Florida faces tax dollar and tourism concerns.
Southwest Florida news network, FOX 4, recently reported that tourism officials in Broward County, Miami-Dade County, and Orange County have confirmed that "at least a dozen national conventions" that were slated to be held in Florida have either been canceled entirely or moved to a different state.
The outlet specifically cited the Game of Thrones fan convention, Con of Thrones, that canceled an August event in Orlando amid what organizers termed “anti-humanitarian legislation and atmosphere in Florida.” The event's website notes that any reservations at the convention's Hyatt Regency Orlando room block will be "automatically canceled." This, of course, impacts the hotel's bottom line.
Another notable event, the National Society of Black Engineers' annual 2024 convention, has been relocated to Atlanta.
In addition to these notable cancelations, the City of Fort Lauderdale has had at least eight major meeting and conventions move or cancel in recent months. Per Skift Meetings, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) is the latest casualty. The organization canceled its 2026 gathering, causing the city to lose about 4,500 hotel stays and an estimated $3.25 million in room revenue. The approximate total loss to Fort Lauderdale's economy is about $8.1 million for this single convention relocation.
Other Fort Lauderdale cancelations include the Church of God and Saints of Christ, the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs, the University of Southern Mississippi, 100 Black Men of America, and the Supreme Council of America Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite Masons.
Republican Governor Ron DeSantis's office denies that the state is experiencing tourism problems. Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern called the recent news about convention relocations "nothing more than a media-driven stunt" and noted that the state experienced record tourism income in Q1 2023.
Dana Young, VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO, said earlier this year, “The Q1 estimates show that 2023 is on track to continue Florida’s outstanding performance in welcoming visitors."
"Each quarter shows that Florida is the most sought-after destination for visitors and we are excited to continue our efforts in welcoming more throughout the year. VISIT FLORIDA is proud of the work we have done with our partners in sharing Florida’s sunshine with the world and we thank Governor DeSantis for his unwavering support of our organization and the tourism industry," Young continued.
Since the pandemic, tourism has been strong in Florida, with December 2022's tax collections beating projections by $141 million.
What are your thoughts on conventions leaving Florida?
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Feature Image Credit: Bkamprath/Getty Images
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