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Tampa Bay Times: Thursday’s letters: Visit Florida key for mom and pop businesses

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Visit Florida Key promotion for small business

Our island and fishing charter business, Island Paradise Charters, has two boats, with a team of four navigating the gulf and a dockside office where I handle sales — but with the help of Visit Florida and its 12,000 industry partners, we have a marketing team of thousands.

I’ve lived in Pasco County for six years and love the community. However, unlike Disney or Miami, Pasco isn’t at the top of anyone’s dream vacation list. If we are going to get visitors here, we’ve got to build awareness, show consumers what unique experiences we offer and sell them on coming here versus the countless other options in the increasingly competitive travel industry internationally. While we’re out on the boat, Visit Florida and Visit Pasco County tell the world about us day after day.

If funding to state and local tourism promotion is slashed, small businesses like ours will disappear. Small mom and pop businesses are not professional marketers. We need the help and support of Visit Florida to be more effective, and we’re proud to be their partner.

If you doubt the critical need for tourism promotion, read Florida TaxWatch’s report on the subject. One of the most staggering conclusions found that if just 5 million fewer people visit Florida next year, 71,000 people would lose their jobs in 2018. That number is nearly five times greater than New Port Richey’s entire population.

I urge Florida House members to reconsider their budget recommendations, because thousands of their constituents’ jobs are at stake.

Ed Caum, New Port Richey

The writer is director of marketing and sales for Island Paradise Charters and Adrenaline Charters in New Port Richey.

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