FL Gov. Ron DeSantis appears to have created his own cancel culture: conventions and large meetings are canceling plans to meet in Florida.
Church of God and Saints of Christ, Scottish Rite Masons, and an association of farmworkers would seem to have little in common, but there’s one thing they all agree on, which is that “current Florida politics” has them staying clear of the Sunshine State.
Since the Sun-Sentinel first reported on some convention cancellations, even more have backed out. Stacy Ritter, CEO of Visit Lauderdale, Broward County’s tourism arm, told OutSFL that two additional groups backed out and four more informed her office that they were taking Florida destinations off the table.
And those are just the ones Visit Lauderdale knows about.
“There are more of those we just don’t know about which means we can’t even quantify what we are losing as we don’t know what we cannot even bid for,” Ritter said.
According to data provided by Visit Lauderdale, it is Florida’s politics, not South Florida’s environment and facilities, that is causing the cancellations. Beauty and the Beach (BATB), an annual fundraiser for the aParent Miracles Foundation, has hosted its event in Florida multiple times but backed out after Republican attacks on DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) programs.
They said, “This had a chilling effect on our efforts to host BATB 2023 in Florida as the attendees wanted to support the NAACP's travel advisory by not spending travel dollars in Florida. We were also of the impression that one of our major sponsors would not support BATB 2023 if it were held in Florida.”
In their cancellation, the American Specialty Toy Retailers Association (ASTRA), placed blame solely on DeSantis policies.
“There was a Board Meeting during the week and it was definitively decided that due to the unfriendly political environment in Florida as it relates to many ASTRA members, Fort Lauderdale has been taken off the table to host their largest annual event.”
Many praise South Florida and Visit Lauderdale for their welcoming attitude and professional capabilities, but that isn’t enough to wallpaper over racist, sexist, and anti-LGBTQ policies. They have led to travel advisories being issued by groups including Equality Florida, the NAACP, and HRC.
Ritter notes that empty rooms and restaurants means fewer jobs.
“These kinds of things hurt small businesses the most. The very businesses which rely on visitors and are minority and women owned and/or LGBTQ owned.”
Plus, she adds, the jobs lost hurt the efforts to lift the entire community.
“Jeopardizing jobs for the very people who share the values of diversity and inclusion and who are being marginalized and dehumanized. We encourage people to spend their time and money here and support those very people who support them.”