Visit Florida could be extended to 2023

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Visit Florida appears to be getting more than a one-year extension.

Days after budget negotiators agreed to maintain $50 million in funding for the state tourism-marketing agency next fiscal year, the House on Tuesday amended a Senate proposal (SB 362) and would authorize the agency until Oct. 1, 2023.

The House is expected to vote on the extension Wednesday, which would send the bill back to the Senate, which has sought to extend Visit Florida until Oct. 1, 2028.

Rep. Mel Ponder, a Destin Republican who sponsored the House version of the bill, said the extension to 2023 was worked out with the Senate.

Without reauthorization during this year’s legislative session, Visit Florida will be eliminated July 1.

The extension to 2023 represents a change for the House, where Republican leaders have sought to close the agency.

Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Windermere, said the extension would provide “stability” to the agency.

Last year, Visit Florida had to cut staff by 30 percent following a $26 million reduction in state funding.