Recent editorials from Florida newspapers:
Pensacola (Fla.) News on tourism being no sucker's bet:
Former Gov. Charlie Crist visited Pensacola Beach to let the locals know that his "heart still bleeds for Florida" and to convince potential voters in next year's gubernatorial election that Gov. Scott is wrong when he tells us "it's working."
Many months of campaigning will reveal whether or not his fellow Floridians are willing to buy such a claim, but there's at least one thing about Gov. Scott's Florida that's impossible for Crist to criticize: Tourism. The numbers are in and it truly is working.
Not only is it working, it's breaking records. 22.9 million visitors came to Florida between July and September, which is a third-quarter record for our state. The numbers released last week by Visit Florida also report tourist spending at $51.8 billion between January and August, up from $49 billion in 2012. That's a big infusion of out-of-state money. Tourism-related jobs increased as well, up 29,700 jobs over the same period a year ago.
Scott has said he wants Florida to hit 100 million tourists in 2013 and to reign as the top tourist destination in the world. While we've always pointed out that tourism doesn't exactly generate the STEM skill jobs of the powerful, diversified economy that experts say Florida will need to compete in the future, the staggering tourism numbers remain a strong bedrock of our state economy.
And in context of the recent hearings on expanded gambling in our state, counting up the winnings of record-breaking tourism success is cause for further questions.
Specifically, if it's clearly working, then why change the formula?
To tourists, Florida is a brand: our beaches and sunshine, our oranges and alligators, our mouse ears and theme parks. Do tumbling dice and slot machine sirens fit into that brand? Would gambling enhance it? And most important, could it possibly detract from it?
Those are elusive questions, given that contemplating and analyzing our brand is a creative, non-literal endeavor. Concrete and quantifiable answers might be impossible to nail down.
Nonetheless, the maintained health and attractiveness of Florida's thriving tourism brand carries crucial considerations. The laws of marketing, advertising and consumer perception demand we take it seriously.
Miami Herald on Haitians at risk after unconscionable decision in DR:
The relationship between the Dominican Republic and Haiti has always been contentious, occasionally violent, but a recent immigration ruling by the Dominican court marks a new low in the unfair treatment historically meted out to ethnic Haitians in that country.
Nearly two months ago, the Dominican Republic's highest judicial body issued a ruling denying citizenship to generations of individuals of Haitian descent born in that country, a decision with disastrous consequences for tens of thousands living on Dominican soil. It cannot go unchallenged by the world community.
Every nation has a right to decide who deserves to claim citizenship, but the Dominican Republic cannot absolve itself of moral responsibility by merely declaring that its constitution does not automatically confer that right on anyone born in that country.
For one thing, the decision goes back to 1929, which means ethnic Haitians born to parents who themselves were born in the Dominican Republic are now in jeopardy of losing their right to remain in the country and enjoy the benefits of citizenship.