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Major Conventions Flee Florida: Tourism in Peril

Ron DeSantis Frowning

By Michael MH | | July, 7 2023

In a surprising development, major conventions are fleeing Florida, leading to widespread concern about the future of Florida’s tourism industry 1 2. Experts warned on Friday about the potential severe impact this could have on the sector.”

When probed for their reasons, one organizer succinctly responded, “Governor DeSantis.” Over the past few months, Broward County, which includes the Fort Lauderdale area, has seen more than half a dozen planned conventions cancelle d 1 2. This information comes from a list compiled by Visit Lauderdale, the county’s tourism promotion group, and reported by the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

One of the major losses includes the Supreme Council of America Inc., Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite Masons, who cancelled their meeting scheduled for August next year 1 2. This cancellation also led to the loss of 855 hotel room bookings. “We lost this program due to the political climate,” Visit Lauderdale noted.

The impact of these cancellations extends beyond just the conventions. Local restaurants and attractions are also feeling the pinch as potential visitors choose other destinations 1 2. The 2024 National Family and Community Engagement and Community Schools Conference also pulled out, resulting in the loss of more than 2,000 hotel rooms.

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Stacy Ritter, president of Visit Lauderdale, expressed her concerns, stating, “From an economic standpoint, this is very harmful. We saw in 2020 what happens when visitors and conventions stay away, people lose their jobs. By not coming here, the residents of our county, whose values align with these organizations, get hurt. Minority, women, and LGBTQ+ businesses rely on visitors for their existence. Staying away hurts those very people”1 2.

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association had planned a 3,000-person conference in 2026 but is now headed to Milwaukee 1 2. Beth Miller, the association’s spokesperson, cited the “unfriendly political environment in Florida” as the reason for the change.

The impact of conventions fleeing, is being felt across the Florida tourism industry, as reported by the Sun Sentinel 1 2. However, a spokesperson for DeSantis dismissed the cancellations of Large Conferences Leaving Florida, as a “media-driven stunt.”

With the ongoing political climate in Florida influencing decisions of major conventions, it’s clear that the state’s tourism industry is facing significant challenges. Given the current political climate in Florida and its influence on the decisions of major conventions, it’s evident that the state’s tourism industry is navigating through significant challenges. These recent events have already begun to shape the landscape of Florida tourism.

Whether this is permanent, only time will tell 1 2.


  1. Bad news for DeSantis is worse news for Florida | Fred Grimm

  2. Experts panic over Florida tourism as major conventions flee state’s ‘unfriendly political environment’

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