TAMPA, Fla. (WFTS) — It’s what keeps Florida going; tourism. Visit Florida said 137.6 million people visited here in 2022, the most ever. In 2021, tourism brought $101.9 billion dollars into the state’s economy.
“Florida is a nice place to be. You got your beaches, you got your tourists, you see people all over the world,” said Gregory Franklin as he strolled the Tampa Riverwalk.
But the Florida State Chapter of the NAACP has its sights set on hitting the state where it hurts most.
“We are letting our voices be heard, and we are just letting people know that we’re not gonna take it. We’re not just gonna sit still. We’re gonna stand up and we’re gonna fight. And when we fight, we win,” said Hillsborough County Chapter President Yvette Lewis.
Over the weekend, the Florida State NAACP unanimously voted to ask the NAACP National Board to issue a travel advisory. The advisory would ask people to forego visiting and moving to the sunshine state.
“Saying you don’t want AP African American Studies here because they have certain topics in it, certain categories, certain words in it. You don’t want companies to have the word diversity, equity and inclusion because it has institutional racism in their policy. You know, it takes us back. And we’ve been fighting so hard,” Lewis said.
This isn’t the first time a group has pushed for a travel advisory or boycott.
The NAACP issued a boycott of South Carolina in 1999 over the confederate flag being flown at the state’s capitol building. It was lifted 15 years after the flag came down. However, that ban cost the state nearly two decades of NCAA tournaments, championships, and bowl games.
In Indiana, a 2015 boycott of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act cost the state more than $60 million dollars as organizers of conferences and other events chose to visit other locations, according to Forbes.
To visitor Gregory Franklin, this travel advisory could yield the same result.
“I think it could change in a way where it would, I believe the state will lose money,” he said.
Lewis sees this as the opportunity to see change in Tallahassee.
“My hope is that they will roll back some of their thoughts, their ideas and some of these bills that target a specific race,” she said.
The NAACP National Board reconvenes in May. That is the earliest they’ll be able to discuss the travel advisory.
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