Orlando leaders should absolutely reallocate exorbitant tourism agency budgets to other projects

If you’ve been watching the Orange County Commission, Orlando City Council, or tourism development council, you’re bound to know one thing.

Our local tourism agency and adjacent promotion groups receive a ridiculous amount of money for a community with so many other challenges.

We received a reminder of that during this week’s county commission meeting where we discussed tourism development tax dollars collected from hotel night stays, and what projects we have to spend them on.

You’ll see have in italics because the tourism lobby locked up those dollars by writing campaign checks to your state leaders. We can’t this huge pot of money on education, public safety, or transportation.

But one of the most foolish aspects of the law is how we spend money on promotion. This has lead to the growth of an Orlando tourism agency that doesn’t do anything, yet has executives making up to a quarter million dollars a year.

We’ve had some local leaders suggest that we try to move that money to other projects like UCF and the Performing Arts Center.

And we should look into that. We must consider that.

This is because these tourism agencies do nothing for Orlando residents outside of the tourism district. They don’t help neighborhoods like Rosemont. Their influence is absent in areas like Apopka and the east side.

At least with projects like the ones proposed by UCF and DPAC, some of our kids from these communities could benefit from them. This unfairly marked money could actually benefit us some point down the line.

The tourism agencies will be just fine working with a whole lot less. Their return of investment is at best questionable and at worst a complete extrapolation, that springboards off of an already dominant global presence of our theme parks.

We work in those hotels. We clean those toilets. We vacuum those floors. We prepare that food.

Let’s explore solutions that can help all Orlando residents.

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