Colorado looks at tourism marketing as budget writers look to slash $3 billion in spending
The Colorado Sun
Budget-slashing in the governor’s economic development office is calling for a sweeping reduction of Colorado’s tourism and marketing budget.
The Joint Budget Committee is weighing an 87% cut to the $18.5 million Colorado Tourism Office budget as gambling revenue evaporates under COVID-19 closures. Nearly $15 million of the state’s tourism promotion fund comes from gambling taxes.
The last time the state cut tourism promotion so drastically — to zero from $12 million in 1993 — the state’s largest-in-the-nation share of U.S. tourists dropped to 17th place and cost Colorado $2 billion in lost revenue a year until tourism marketing was revived in 2000.
The recommendation for a one-year cut in tourism funding comes as the JBC looks for ways to cut an estimated $3 billion from next year’s budget. On Wednesday the committee cut the state’s film incentive program by 80% and eliminated the Advanced Industries grant program for the coming year.
The proposal from the committee’s staff would allow the Colorado Tourism Office to retain its 15 full-time employees, but cut all contracted marketing, advertising and tourism promotion.
Sen. Bob Rankin, a Republican from Carbondale who served six years on the Colorado Tourism Board, called the cuts “dramatic and devastating” and projected the state would lose at least $1 billion in visitor spending if it eliminates all tourism marketing in the fall and next winter.
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