Governor Ron DeSantis has appeared to brag about Florida’s tourism industry as three civil groups issue travel advisories warning people of colour and LGBTQ+ people not to travel to Florida in light of recent laws passed in the state.
On Sunday, civil rights group the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), issued a travel advisory statement saying that Florida had become ‘hostile’ as a result of Governor Ron DeSantis and his policies. The statement joins both the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and Equality Florida, who have also issued travel advisories in light of DeSantis’ recent policies.
DeSantis recently signed a bill to defend diversity, equity, and inclusion programmes at public colleges which have been criticised by many policymakers and free speech activists. The Governor’s attempts to get his ‘Stop W.O.K.E’ Act through the courts have continually failed, but the act, which restricts the way race is discussed in schools, colleges, and workplaces, and highlights the conservative policies of DeSantis. He has also expanded ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bills and restricted the rights and freedoms of transgender people in the state. This has resulted in many groups deeming Florida an unsafe place to visit for minorities.
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However, DeSantis seems to be unbothered by the announcement. Whilst he has not made a formal statement on the travel advisory, he called it ‘a joke’ when asked about it back in March when it was first proposed. He has, however, tweeted an infographic with Florida’s tourist statistics, boasting an increase in both international and domestic tourism to the state. It appears to be a subtle response to the NAACP and others’ announcements.
Democratic lawmakers in Florida criticised DeSantis whilst saying that they will ensure Florida is a safe and welcoming place for all. Jane Caster, the Mayor of Tampa, tweeted that ‘anyone and everyone’ is welcome in Tampa and ‘diversity and inclusion are central to what makes Tampa one of America’s greatest and friendliest cities.’
\u201cAs Mayor of Tampa, I can absolutely assure anyone and everyone considering a visit or move to Tampa that they will be welcomed with open arms. Diversity and inclusion are central to what makes Tampa one of America's greatest and friendliest cities. That will never change,\u2026\u201d— Jane Castor (@Jane Castor) 1684678376
Ted Cruz, the Republican senator for Texas, tweeted that it is ‘bizarre’ and ‘dishonest’ for the NAACP to call Florida ‘hostile’ and dangerous. He added that Martin Luther King Jr. would be ‘ashamed’ of the group today. King’s daughter Bernice responded to Cruz’s tweet saying ‘what my father would be deeply concerned about is the harmful, discriminatory legislation in Florida.’
\u201cThis is bizarre. And utterly dishonest. \n\nIn the 1950s & 1960s, the NAACP did extraordinary good helping lead the civil rights movement. \n\nToday, Dr. King would be ashamed of how profoundly they\u2019ve lost their way.\u201d— Ted Cruz (@Ted Cruz) 1684705497
\u201cWhat my father would be deeply concerned about is the harmful, discriminatory legislation in Florida.\u201d— Be A King (@Be A King) 1684722680
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