California Cuts Tourism Funding

R. Scott Macintosh California has cut its $7 million in state funding for marketing tourism under a budget plan approved by lawmakers after a six-week deadlock over how to lessen the state’s $38.2 billion deficit. Under the $100 billion plan, which relies on heavy borrowing, program cuts and fee increa

By: R. Scott Macintosh

California has cut its $7 million in state funding for marketing tourism under a budget plan approved by lawmakers after a six-week deadlock over how to lessen the state’s $38.2 billion deficit.

Under the $100 billion plan, which relies on heavy borrowing, program cuts and fee increases, the state-funded arm of the industry’s promotional organization, California Travel, will lose its $7 million marketing budget.

Gov. Gray Davis was expected to approve the plan late last week.

The cuts will slash marketing funds in half for promoting the state’s $75 billion travel industry, the fifth largest contributor to the California economy.

Even though promotional funds for the California Division of Tourism will be slashed, California Travel will continue operating its core programs from the $7 million it receives in private funding from an industry-approved assessment.

“Tourism will take a big hit in advertising,” said Jennifer Jasper, the deputy director of the California Travel and Tourism Comm- ission, the privately funded arm of California Travel. “We’re hoping that tourism will remain flat and stable, but we know that advertising brings people to the state and maintains market share.”

California Travel has been preparing for a worst-case scenario since total elimination of the state-funded marketing budget was first proposed by Davis in January, but has been working on three budgets based on funding scenarios.

“An assembly committee agreed to put in $5 million last month. That’s where we stood a month ago,” said Terry Taylor Solorio, president of the California Travel Industry Association.

About seven jobs were eliminated in June in the division of tourism as a result of the state’s financial crisis.

California Travel will maintain its co-op and communication programs, travel trade shows, and publications with assessment money. It will also keep its trade offices and trade partners in key overseas markets such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan.

Jasper said the commission will try to offset the advertising loss by being more aggressive with media.

“We understand that this is a desperate time for the legislature,” she said. “Obviously we would have welcomed the funding but realize that it was a tough year in California. We realize that we are not alone and hope that it is a temporary road block.”

The total budget for the California Division of Tourism had been funded through the state’s economic development office, which was completely eliminated by legislators.

Some funding was spared to maintain administrative positions in the Division of Tourism, which will be shifted to the authority of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.

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