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Will Travel Warnings Impact Florida’s Economy?

The NAACP is the latest organization to issue a warning against Florida.

The NAACP Board of Directors issued a travel advisory for the state of Florida on May 20. The notice states that “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals. Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”

The NAACP joins other advocacy organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Florida Immigrant Coalition, and Equality Florida in issuing advisory notices that express concern over Florida’s state government, which they view as hostile to the rights of LGBTQ+, Latino, and Black residents and prospective travelers.

The organizations cited legislation in the state government affecting the expression and safety of their groups. Among the bills in question include the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which limits the ability of Florida teachers to have conversations with students about sexuality; a newly enacted law that would allow open carry of firearms without a permit; and SB-1718, which invalidates out-of-state driver licenses for undocumented immigrants or requires a citizenship question on Medicaid intake forms.

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While the advisories attracted headlines, a spokesperson for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis dismissed the NAACP travel advisory as “nothing more than a stunt.”

“As Governor DeSantis announced last week, Florida is seeing record-breaking tourism,” the aide said in a statement.

Related: Numerous Countries Have Issued Travel Warnings for the United States

This Is Not the First State Warning Issued by the NAACP

In 2017, the Missouri NAACP issued a travel advisory for the entire state of Missouri, which was later recognized by the national NAACP organization, citing an increase in race-related violence, and the deaths of Black people in police custody in the state.

Fodor’s included Missouri on its 2018 No List, due to this warning.

There is little evidence, however, that the Missouri travel advisory chilled interest in Missouri travel. Missouri’s Division of Tourism estimated that the total economic impact of tourism in the state in the years 2018 and 2019 grew at roughly the same rate as in previous years, averaging 3.6% annual growth since 2010.

However, in 2021, the Division of Tourism launched a new campaign with a Black woman as the spokesperson. Named Mo, and portrayed by St. Louis-based actress Ashley Santana, the campaign remains in broad use promoting Missouri as a tourism destination. Nimrod Chapel, Jr., the president of NAACP’s Missouri chapter said in 2021 that the advisory would remain in effect until there’s “meaningful progress in the systemic abuses affecting people of color.”

The NAACP’s travel advisory for Missouri is still in place.

Will This Impact Florida?

Florida is a bigger player in the tourism space than Missouri. More than 137.5 million visitors spent time in Florida last year, making it the second most-visited state after California. It’s also worth mentioning that the travel advisories by the NAACP and other groups are not calls for full boycotts—they’re warnings to prospective travelers that the civil rights of Black, LGBTQ+, and Latino People may not be fully respected in the state of Florida.

It’s also worth noting that most of Florida’s new legislation is unlikely to have a direct impact on the visitor experience. Many of the state’s new laws concern the administration of school curriculum—not typically a top concern among travel buyers.

This is also not the first time travelers have been advised to be vigilant in their travels to Florida. In 1993, the German government issued a list of precautionary measures for German travelers anticipating travel to the Sunshine State, in response to a marked uptick in fatal crimes involving German tourists, although there was no underlying political driver for the warnings.

Some tourism leaders in Florida quickly responded to the NAACP travel advisory, with messages that their destinations are welcoming and ready to receive travelers of all backgrounds. “We understand and respect the decision of the NAACP to issue a travel advisory for the State of Florida,” Stacy Ritter, CEO and president of Visit Lauderdale, told South Florida Business & Wealth.

“Florida is a very large state with more than 20 million individuals, Broward County, which is in southern Florida, is a diverse and welcoming community that is proud to be home to people from all walks of life. Our reputation speaks for itself. We have a long history of supporting civil rights and equality, and we are committed to creating a safe and inclusive environment for all visitors. We are a community that is open to all, and we welcome everyone under the sun.”

notsure1771 May 29, 2023

Wow, another generous in-kind campaign donation

theMage May 25, 2023

Fact check: The chair of the NAACP's twitter bio lists his location as Tampa, FL. The "don't say gay" bill does not say that anywhere, as written just forbids teachers from talking about sexual subjects to k-3. Also, Constitutional carry is the defacto law in a majority of states, all having lower violent crime rates than democrat strongholds. FYI, DeSantis won 58% of the Latin votes in his reelection.

krw95462 May 25, 2023

A bogus travel warning, especially one put out by a racist organization for political purposes, should not effect travel to Fla. and most likely (99.9%) will not.

kengallaher2240 May 25, 2023

time to flip Florida blue