Despite Pitbull fallout, PBC tourism leaders warn against cuts for Visit Florida

Despite the controversy over Miami rapper Pitbull‘s $1 million contract with Florida’s tourism marketing organization, industry leaders in Palm Beach County are warning against cutting state money for the public-private agency, saying it could have a “negative and immediate” impact on the economy.

INGLEWOOD, CA - JULY 07:  Singer Pitbull performs at the Forum on July 7, 2016 in Inglewood, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

INGLEWOOD, CA – JULY 07: Singer Pitbull performs at the Forum on July 7, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday recommended Visit Florida receive $76 million in state funding to help pay for its marketing efforts. Some state lawmakers, however, have taken aim at the organization’s budget, citing secrecy surrounding its contracts and marketing deals.

The pubic-private marketing organization has faced mounting scrutiny since it refused to release details about its $1 million contract with Pitbull, whose real name is Armando Christian Perez. The controversy led to the resignation of Visit Florida’s longtime President and CEO Will Seccombe, who stepped down last month at the governor’s request.

RELATED: Secret no more: Pitbull tweets $1M contract with Visit Florida

Despite the shakeup, Discover The Palm Beaches, the county’s tourism marketing arm, is urging community leaders to push for state money for Visit Florida.

In an email message sent to industry leaders on Tuesday, Jorge Pesquera, Discover’s President and CEO, said tourism is a “a significant driver” of the state’s economy. Pesquera urged recipients of the message to call their state representatives, senators and the governor’s office.

RELATED: Out-of-state tourists spending more, Visit Florida says

“Tourism marketing efforts have a direct impact on the industry’s ability to sustain and grow tourism numbers, as well as fend off threats resulting from natural or man made disasters such as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, hurricanes, Zika, etc.,” Pesquera wrote. “Reductions in tourism marketing funding will have a negative and immediate impact on local communities in Florida.”