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First CO, next CA

Old 02-28-2012, 06:18 PM
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A Joint Budget Panel researcher has counseled chopping the Colorado Tourism Office budget by 35 p.c for the financial 2012-13 year, roiling tourism officials.Denver Seo Services

Al White, head of the Colorado Tourism Office, said cutting the country's tourism marketing funding by $5 million to $9.6 million won't just pinch visitation but tax revenue.

"Tourism funding is critical," White said. "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 Feb. 16 "figure setting advice" will be considered by the six-member, bipartisan council on March 16. The financial review board, which writes the once a year appropriations bill that funds state operations, can adjust the analyst's suggestion.

"The council often takes the analyst's recommendation but they can make their own decision," claimed White, who used to serve on the panel for 4 years.

The 2012-13 budget proposed 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 in part to reduced gaming cash - the country's promoting funds could fall to $9.6 million.

Back in the early 1990s, finance for tourism promotion was eliminated. From 1993 to 2k, the state spent zilch to lure holiday-makers. By the late 1990s, the state had watched the quantity of overnite holiday-makers visiting Colorado drop by a 3rd.

10 years after reviving tourism marketing 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 bln, another record for the state.

The state claims approximately 2.6 percent of the states tourism market, up from 1.8 % when it did not spend any money on tourism promoting.

Each tenth of a percent is worth $450 million in economic activity and about $40 million in local and state tax cash, White expounded.

"I need our share of the market to grow to 3 percent," he claimed. "That will need extra funding and it means a further one-and-a-half billion in spending in the state and $160 million in tax cash. When we lose a 3rd of our funding year-to-year and we lose 60 percent of our funding in 4 years, that isn't how we stay competitive."

The guarantee of big returns on tourism investment will hopefully sway the budget committee before it adopts the analyst's advice, White recounted.

Tourism boosters in CO say investment in holiday promoting pays giant dividends and they all point to Florida. Facing more than a $1 bln budget insufficiency, Florida's governor in 2010 almost doubled tourism spending and last month politicians kept it that $35 million funding untouched.
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