Warnings are going out from civil rights group to tourists: Don’t go to Florida.
The NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and Equality Florida are united in issuing travel advisories. They’re warning minority groups that Florida, a heavily tourist-centered state, is unsafe.
The state of Florida “devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color,” reads the warning by the NAACP, written after the DeSantis-appointed Florida Board of Education banned the teaching of Advanced Placement African American Studies in high schools, and passed acts banning discussion and analysis of racism in schools and businesses.
Florida is one of the most popular states in the U.S. for tourists, and tourism is one of its biggest industries. More than 137.5 million tourists visited Florida last year, marking a return to pre-pandemic levels, according to Visit Florida, the state’s tourism promotion agency. Tourism supports 1.6 million full-time and part-time jobs (out of approx. 10 million total jobs), and visitors spent $98.8 billion in Florida in 2019, the last year figures are available.
Several of Florida’s cities, those run by Democratic mayors, were quick to respond to the advisory, asserting that their cities did not follow Ron DeSantis and the other Florida Republicans’ “hostile” policies and laws.
“EVERYONE is always welcome and will be treated with dignity and respect,” tweeted Mayor Ken Welch of St. Petersburg in a message echoed by the mayor across the bay in Tampa.
“That will never change, regardless of what happens in Tallahassee,” tweeted Mayor Jane Castor of Tampa.
LULAC’s warnings point at a new Florida law which punishes companies from issuing ID cards or driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants (both legal) and requires hospitals to ask patients about their citizenship status.
“Taken in their totality, Florida’s slate of laws and policies targeting basic freedoms and rights pose a serious risk to the health and safety of those traveling to the state,” Equality Florida’s advisory said.
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