We have just learned the names of senators and representatives serving on the Conference Committee setting the state’s budget, including the budget for the Missouri Division of Tourism, and we are once again asking you to IMMEDIATELY contact those legislators and urge them to keep the budget at a reasonable level. Their first meeting is at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 2.
The governor recommended a $13.4 million budget, the House recommended a $13.2 million budget and the Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $10 million. The issue is now in the hands of the Conference Committee, which will iron out differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget to present to the governor for his signature.
If the Division of Tourism budget is cut to $10 million, destination marketing organizations throughout the state, including the Springfield CVB, could also be facing budget cuts because the division’s Cooperative Marketing Program will likely be eliminated or drastically cut. The Cooperative Marketing Program provides matching funds to destination marketing organizations around the state.
Please contact the committee members listed below immediately and encourage them to restore the budget to the $13.2 million recommended by the House. Time is of the essence. The committee could make a decision as early as tomorrow.
A sample letter is below.
Thank you to everyone who has already helped in this effort. Your support is appreciated.
- Rep. Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) – 573-751-5282 – firstname.lastname@example.org - Rep. Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) – 573-751-4069 – email@example.com - Rep. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia) – 573-751-4189 – firstname.lastname@example.org - Sen. Shalonn “KiKi” Curls (D-Kansas City) – 573-751-3158 – email@example.com - Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) – 573-751-3931 – firstname.lastname@example.org - Sen. Dan Brown (R-Rolla) – 573-751-5713 – email@example.com - Sen. Tim Green (D-St. Louis) – 573-751-2420 – firstname.lastname@example.org - Sen. Will Kraus ((R-Lee’s Summit) – 573-751-1464 – email@example.com
Also on the committee are Rep. Lincoln Hough (R-Springfield) and Rep. Sara Lampe (D-Springfield). Hough and Lampe have expressed a commitment to restoring the Division of Tourism Budget so instead of urging them to help, please thank them for their support and ask them to continue in their efforts to help other legislators understand the importance of tourism to Missouri.
The jobs of nearly 280,000 people in Missouri are at risk if tourism declines in Missouri and it will decline if the Division of Tourism’s budget is reduced.
Cutting the Division of Tourism budget will negatively affect economic recovery and the state’s future revenues, perpetuating the problem for years to come. Tourists spent $10 billion in Missouri last year, boosting tax revenues and creating jobs. As was seen in Colorado when the tourism marketing budget there was eliminated in 1993, many tourists will stop coming to Missouri if we do not continue marketing the state as a travel destination. The result will be less sales tax revenue statewide and fewer jobs. (www.longwoods-intl.com/case-studies/what-happens-when-you-stop-marketing/)
As you may be aware, legislation was passed in 1994 creating a funding mechanism for the Division of Tourism (RSMo.620.467). According to this legislation, the budget for the Division of Tourism is determined by the growth in sales tax revenue from 17 SIC codes. If this legislation were being followed today, the Division of Tourism’s budget would be about $30 million. Although the travel industry firmly believes a significant investment in travel promotion will produce more tax revenue and more jobs for our state, we understand the likelihood of the Division of Tourism being funded at the amount prescribed by RSMo.620.467 will not happen in the near future, nor has it happened the past several years.
We do, however, strongly believe the premise behind the legislation is still sound – if we spend money to promote travel, jobs and sales tax revenues will increase in the future as a result. The reverse also happens, and that is my concern.
Because the funding model is sound and based on budget increases only when tourism revenues increase, other states have adopted similar legislation. Currently, in fact, the Ohio legislature is considering HB 489, which includes a funding formula based on growth in sales tax revenue generated by the industry.
It is extremely important to note that the industry has been told for the past two years that cuts to the Division of Tourism’s budget below the $13.4 million level will result in the reduction or elimination of the Division of Tourism’s Cooperative Marketing Program. Because the Cooperative Marketing Program provides matching funds to destination marketing organizations around the state, funding cuts will cause additional reductions to travel and tourism marketing efforts around the state.
The Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, as an example, applied for and was awarded $450,000 from the Cooperative Marketing Program for leisure, convention, and sports marketing projects this past year. Applications are prepared for Cooperative Marketing Funds in the same amount for FY13, but if there is a cut to the Division of Tourism’s budget, travel marketing efforts will be reduced by $900,000. This same story can be heard in nearly every Missouri city with a destination marketing organization like a CVB or Chamber of Commerce.
I hope we can count on you to do what you can to reverse the decision to cut the Division of Tourism’s budget. Thank you very much for your attention.