A Joint Budget Panel researcher has counseled cutting the Colorado Tourism Office budget by 35 % for the economic 2012-13 year, roiling tourism officers.Denver Seo Company
Al White, head of the Colorado Tourism Office, claimed cutting the country's tourism promoting funding by $5 million to $9.6 million won't just pinch visitation but tax revenue.
"Tourism funding is critical," White related. "For each buck we spend, we get about $7 back in state and local taxes. It's a great leveraged return on the dollar."
The analyst's February. 16 "figure setting advice" will be considered by the six-member, bipartisan committee on March 16. The fiscal review committee, which writes the yearly appropriations bill that funds state operations, can adjust the analyst's proposal.
"The council often takes the analyst's recommendation but they can make their own decision," declared White, who served on the board for four years.
The 2012-13 budget suggested by Gov. John Hickenlooper continues tourism funding at $14.6 million.
State funding for the tourism Office slid from $20 million in 2007 to $14.6 million in 2011 as the state faced a harsh budget crisis. This year - thanks partly to reduced gaming cash - the state's marketing funds could fall to $9.6 million.
Back in the early 1990s, money for tourism promotion was eliminated. From 1993 to 2000, the state spent nada to lure holiday-makers. By the late 1990s, the state had watched the amount of overnight vacationers visiting Colorado drop by a third.
10 years after reviving tourism advertising efforts in 2000, the state logged a record 55.1 million visits in 2010, including a highest-ever 28.9 million overnite visitors. Those visitors spent $8.8 billion, another record for the state.
The state claims approximately 2.6 percent of the states tourism market, up from 1.8 percent when it didn't spend any money on tourism promoting.
Every tenth of a percent is worth $450 million in business activity and about $40 million in local and state tax cash, White announced.
"I want our market share to grow to Three percent," he said. "That will need extra funding but it also means an additional one-and-a-half bill in spending in the state and $160 million in tax cash. When we lose a third of our funding year-to-year and we lose 60 % of our funding in 4 years, that isn't how we stay competitive."
The promise of massive returns on tourism investment will perhaps sway the budget council before it adopts the analyst's advice, White said.
Tourism boosters in CO say investment in vacation selling pays giant dividends and they all point to Florida. Facing more than a $1 billion budget shortfall, Florida's governor in 2010 nearly doubled tourism spending and last month politicians kept it that $35 million funding intact.