Efforts to improve tourism in Florida should take tourism — not money — into account

Last year, large cracks appeared on the sides of Florida’s Okeechobee Inlet and Alligator Alley, a waterway that travels through the Everglades to the Atlantic Ocean. The cracks fed a colony of alligators.

However, the catastrophic flood that washed out houses in the Florida Keys just over a year ago has deprived the region of much of its tourist trade, depriving much of Florida of the revenues that come with tens of thousands of daily visitors.

As a result, the state is asking its 11 port authorities to take a hard look at the amounts they spend on marketing. Under the proposal, a state commission would publish a map of the ports’ major markets, size of vessels and types of tourism that are most important to each port.

This would give the port commissioners a guide to which areas were of greatest interest to travellers.

Faced with plummeting takings from cruise ships, Port St. Lucie, a Tampa-area port, has asked the state to consider revising terms of a contract with the cruise-ship industry that officials consider inappropriate.

Broward County, a former colony of Cuba, has been left without water or a functioning bridge after Hurricane Irma — another huge blow to the tourism trade.

Under fire, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed legislation that would have attempted to extend a tax on vehicle inspections to cover tours and concerts.

In his veto message, the governor argued that the current tax covered areas where there were “vast numbers of signs at every turn” to discourage tourism and that state tax dollars were better spent elsewhere.

For many travelers, before they even decide where to go, they evaluate the value of the place by considering how much it costs to get there. For many Floridians, that calculation usually means avoiding Miami.

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