FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - One of South Florida’s biggest cities are using some warm and welcoming words for visitors after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed off on a controversial law.
The Fort Lauderdale social media campaign follows legislation forbidding the discussion of sexual orientation in some classrooms and the law causing a state showdown.
“We don’t care who you love, who you marry. We don’t care who or what you worship. We just want you to have a great experience,” said CEO of Visit Fort Lauderdale Stacy Ritter.
The words of Ritter was the welcoming message from Visit Lauderdale, Broward County’s tourism promotion arm.
“Whatever, whoever, however you identify, just come and have a wonderful time in our beaches, our golden sands and lovely sun,” said Ritter.
It has become the focus of a new social media ad campaign that has followed the controversial legislation out of Tallahassee.
“We lost some conferences because of what is going on in the state capitol,” said Ritter. “We realized we needed to do what we have been doing for 30 years, which is market ourselves as a welcoming and inclusive destination.”
Businesses have pulled their conferences and events out of South Florida in the wake of the state’s “Stop Woke Act,” which would censor discussion in school and workplaces surrounding systematic racism and gender discrimination.
Another point of controversy is the parental rights in education law, which critics refer to as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which restricts conversations about sexuality and gender identity in primary classrooms.
“Without group business, tourism disappears. When your groups just say they’re not coming because of things that are happening in the state, you have to separate yourself,” said Ritter.
Over the past several weeks, ahead of it being signed to law, many have expressed their opposition to legislation including student walkouts in South Florida and demonstrations at the capitol.
Most notably, DeSantis and Disney squabbled after company executives denounced the law. Now he has threatened to pull Disney’s special taxing district which basically allows Walt Disney World to operate its own government.
“They will also be considering termination of all special districts that were enacted prior to 1968,” said DeSantis.
Back in South Florida, county leaders have pledged to keep promoting Greater Fort Lauderdale a destination for all.
“Tourism is our number one industry here, and we have seen these last two years, when tourism falls off, people lose their jobs. They lose the ability to feed their families, pay their bills, they lose the dignity that work provides,” said Ritter, “so what we do on a daily basis marketing and promoting this destination is to make sure people are employed.”
As far as the economic loss to Broward County from canceled conferences, the agency said it is too early to tell.
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