VISIT Orlando data shouldn’t be used to promote a new transportation tax in Orange County

Over the past few months, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings has been promoting a new sales tax that would go towards transportation needs in Orange County. The proposal would likely go before the voters on the 2020 general election ballot (story HERE).

One of the go-to lines of those in favor of the tax, including the Mayor, has been that it won’t be Orange County residents that pay the new sales tax, but tourists that visit the area. They say it will be visitors from out of town that pay 51% of the tax.

The source of that estimate? VISIT Orlando, the region’s tourism promotion agency.

We should have serious concerns about taking data to the voters from a tourism agency that encourages raising taxes by also promoting it’s own interests.

That’s not a neutral source. That’s like telling a poll telling you that you can lose weight by eating hamburgers that’s sponsored by Burger King.

If this tax increase passes, you’d better support the future interests of this agency. If tourism slips, you’ll be paying more than 51%.

Now you’re paying more taxes and being pushed to go out of pocket for tourism initiatives that will only supplement private companies who do billions in business.

And while VISIT Orlando hasn’t done anything wrong.

Let me repeat that. And while VISIT Orlando hasn’t done anything wrong.

The Orange County Comptroller recently suggested that there should be more transparency behind their operation (story HERE).

We shouldn’t be giving out any data to voters from any agency unless they meet the highest standards of the county they’re providing it to.

Until then we need to stop feeding these numbers to the public.

I’ve watched both town halls regarding this proposed transportation tax and one thing the Mayor has promoted is transparency in the process.

Let’s start by providing numbers from a source that isn’t promoting it’s own interests at a potential cost to the voters.

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