So Rick Scott wants to set a new record — and spend more tax dollars on tourism promotion than any governor before him.
We're talking $100 million — more than triple what it was a few years ago.
This kind of record-high spending concerns me.
Partly because we already throw gobs on tax dollars at this. Orange County alone has spent $105 million in the last three years.
Partly because it's selective corporate welfare — subsidizing one industry over others … and one of our lowest-paying industries at that.
But it also concerns me for this very important reason: We often stink at tourism advertising.
Remember "Orlando makes me smile?"
That gem of catchphrase was part of a $15 million campaign in 2009. And while it may have made some ad execs smile (particularly those cashing checks), it didn't make anyone come.
Tourism in Orlando actually dropped to a six-year low that year ... even while statewide numbers remained flat.
I mean, come on. My Aunt Nancy makes me smile. But reminding me of that doesn't make me want to spend spring break in at her house in Richmond, Va.
Orlando has had other anemic slogans, like: "Orlando: Built for families. Made for memories." That sounds more like an ad for a minivan.
But at the state level, the slogans have been even worse — so bad that the tourism execs have complained.
In 1985, for example, Florida spent millions promoting the phrase: "We got it."
Those three words managed to upset two groups of people — theme park execs and those who respect proper grammar.
SeaWorld's president was among the first to blast the slogan, suggesting "We got it" was too passive and that a more enticing greeting would have been: "Come and get it."
It was like arguing over a chow call.
The next year's slogan fared just as poorly — as evidenced by the 1986 Sentinel headline "New slogan is greeted by groans."
That year it was: "The Rules Are Different Here." Even the state's tourism chief lamented that some folks thought it meant: "It's OK; you can shoot your husband in Florida."
He swore that wasn't the case.
The truth is that slogans alone are only part of a marketing campaign. And some of Orlando's and Florida's have been really solid.