Rick Scott touts Florida tourism record as job booster

05/15/14 Janelle Irwin
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:
Tags: Rick Scott, Bob Buckhorn, Tampa, St. Petersburg, tourism, Visit Florida, Visit Tampa Bay, jobs, economy, sea level rise


Florida Governor Rick Scott congratulates Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn on record tourism numbers.

photo by Janelle Irwin

Tourism marketers in Florida are hoping to see at least 100 million trips to the state this year. The latest numbers are out for first quarter and they broke records.

The announcement Thursday at Busch Gardens by Visit Florida was heralded by Governor Rick Scott as a huge win for Floridians.

“Think about it. We want more jobs in our state. Tourism is a big driver. When people come here as tourists they buy homes, they buy cars, they think, ‘man, this is a nice place to live.’”

And as a man who considers himself the “jobs governor”, Scott points out the impact more tourism has on job creation.

“Every 85 tourists is another job.”

That means more than a million jobs were sustained in Florida between January and March because of tourism. Visit Tampa Bay’s Santiago Corrada says the tourism boost is showing in Tampa too.

“We are really having a tremendous year. April set a record in bed tax collections – most bed tax collected in any month since we’ve been tracking bed tax.”

Pinellas County also posted the highest tourism ever for the month of March. Beaches are Pinellas’ bread and butter, but a recent climate change report released by the White House shows that sea level rise may be threatening coastal areas more than previous predictions. WMNF asked Governor Scott what he planned to do to mitigate sea level rise.

“Well, we’ve been working in the last three years we worked with our division of emergency management and focused on flooding around our coast – we put $130 million in it. But we’ve done a variety of things to make sure we deal with anything that’s happening – whether it’s the Everglades settlement and all the investments we have, the investments around the Indian River Lagoon – we’re making strategic investments to deal with anything.”

REPORTER: “You own property in Naples. Do you worry your property with rising sea levels at all?

“No. Look, I’m not a scientist, but I can tell you what, we’re going to make sure we continue to make the right investments in the state. Take care of our environment. We love living here.”

Scott’s answer about the Everglades and Indian River Lagoon projects deal with water quality issues, not sea level rise. In the White House report, the Tampa Bay area as well as Miami and Apalachicola are listed as some of the most at-risk cities for increased flooding.

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