FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Broward County officials say several groups have had a change of heart about holding their events there, and some are blaming the state of politics in Florida.

The group Visit Lauderdale works with organizations across the country to bring them to Broward. The group’s president and CEO, Stacy Ritter, said there is a clear pattern when it comes to recent cancellations.

“I don’t think any of us has ever seen politics creep into tourism,” said Ritter.

But officials with Visit Lauderdale say that’s exactly with about half a dozen organizations that opted out of holding their conventions in Broward.

“Tourism has always transcended politics. People travel where they’d like to go,” said Ritter.

But despite the sun and the sand, some groups are deciding to go elsewhere, according to a spreadsheet provided to 7News.

One of those groups explained, “We were so close on this one … but group decided to pull out of Florida due to concerns about what the governor is doing in the education/schools and that he will likely run in 2024. They do not want to lose attendees due to this.”

Another group “selected Atlanta due to current Florida’s political climate.”

A reason cited by a group out of Mississippi was “Governor DeSantis.”

“We’re not doing anything differently at Visit Lauderdale; it’s just that people are paying more attention to Florida these days,” said Ritter.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is running for president in 2024. He has received national attention for a public fight with Disney and has signed bills that affect the LGBTQ community, as well as a six-week abortion ban.”

In a statement, the governor’s press secretary, Jeremy Redfern, wrote, “As Governor DeSantis announced in May, Florida is experiencing record tourism, with the [first quarter of] 2023 having the largest volume of visitors during a single quarter in recorded history.”

Redfern went on to say, “Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, Florida’s economy is booming, with Florida being the fastest growing state and having the largest net domestic in-migration.”

“In Greater Fort Lauderdale, we have seen record tourism of numbers through the first quarter of this calendar year, but as I said, group business books years in advance,” said Ritter.

The Broward County Convention Center is currently hosting a karate tournament. Some visitors said politics shouldn’t play any part.

“Everybody has their opinion on everything, what they believe or don’t believe,” said tournament attendee Rocky Catala. “At the end of the day, at the bottom line, we should be working on how to make our lives better.”

“Sometimes we just have to overlook some of the political issues and do what needs to be done,” said Ann Thackerson, who is visiting from North Carolina.

Ritter said those potential conventions listed on the spreadsheet would have accounted for about $9 million in revenue.

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