The tourism promotion group Visit Lauderdale reported that over half a dozen organizations planning conventions in Broward County changed their minds citing “what the Governor is doing in the education/schools.”
The loss is more significant than you think
One canceled convention by the Supreme Council of America Inc., Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite Masons, led to the cancellation of 885 rooms. Another, the 2024 National Family and Community Engagement and Community Schools Conference, led to the cancelation of over 2000 rooms. But, it is not only about hotels. Attendees spend money in restaurants, shops, theme parks, etc.
Visit Lauderdale is kind of in denial
President of Visit Lauderdale, Stacy Ritter, talked about the financial losses, saying, “From an economic standpoint, this is very harmful. We saw in 2020 what happens when visitors stay away — people lose their jobs. By not coming here, the residents of our county, whose values align with these organizations, get hurt. Minority, women, and LGBTQ+ businesses rely on visitors for their existence. Staying away hurts those very people.” The thing is that the LGBTQ community, women, and minorities were already sanctioned by DeSantis’ rulings, from the so-called “don’t say gay” to eliminating DEI.
Switching to Milwaukee
The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association will host their 3000-person convention in Milwaukee instead of Florida.
Spokesperson Beth Miller cited the “unfriendly political environment in Florida,” adding, “This would otherwise be such a fabulous destination for the group. I sure hope things become less polarizing soon.”
Another group shared a similar standpoint
The 2024 National Family and Community Engagement and Community Schools Conference confirmed they did not want to bring business to Florida before DeSantis’ announcement he was running for GOP primaries.
Blaming the Governor
They claimed, “Group decided to pull out of Florida due to concerns about what the Governor is doing in the education/schools and that he will run in 2024. They do not want to lose attendees due to this.”
DeSantis’ spokesperson denied it all
A spokesperson for the Florida governor claimed it was “nothing more than a media-driven stunt.” It does not change the fact that people in charge of many conventions cited DeSantis’ policies, nor that there were new guidelines for traveling to Florida if you belong to a minority group.
Florida is becoming a total DeSaster
Social media users were not surprised. One person wrote on Reddit, “Florida is becoming a total DeSaster.” Another alleged, “Republican runs everything into the ground for personal gain again. What’s new?”
The third person added, “My wife’s company has their annual conference in March 2023 with over 3000 rooms for the week, and attendees and coworkers have mostly said they would not be going this year due to the political climate.”
Adding salt to the wound
Someone shared, “What group other than Christian white nationalists would drag their employees and families into that s..tshow? Florida is getting what they asked for.”
Not good for business
Another chimed in, “Turns out Fascism isn’t good for business.” Someone called out DeSantis’ anti-woke everything, “Looks like you killed ‘Woke,’ and the results were unexpected and devastating to the Florida economy.”
A friendly reminder
One person said, “Indianapolis lost millions as a result of Mike Pence and his religious free bigotry act when he was governor.” Another pointed out, “I guarantee his supporters are gonna double down and accuse libs of doing something coz it can’t possibly be their own fault, right?” And someone concluded, “Florida man. To single-handedly make your state a national joke.”
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