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Missouri Tourism Budget Takes Hit

For the fiscal year 2010, Missouri decided on a statewide budget cut of almost 430 million dollars. The Department of Economic Development took a substantial hit, losing 11 million dollars. KSMU’s Adam Hammons has more on how these cuts will affect the tourism industry in Missouri.

During a recession, states, like everyone else, have to tighten the belt. The hard question, however, is what to cut.

It appears that this year, tourism is the answer to that question. For the planned 2010 budget, the Missouri Division of Tourism will be losing one third of its budget.

Tracy Kimberlin, President of the Springfield Visitor’s Bureau, says since tourism is so important to Missouri and the Ozarks, these cuts could hurt the economy even more.

“Tourism is a huge industry in Missouri. A little town to our south is there only because of tourism. Branson wouldn’t be existence today as we know it without tourists, and there are millions that come to this area and to the state.”

Kimberlin went on to say that tourism brings in millions of dollars of revenue to Missouri each year, and that for roughly every dollar spent on advertising in other states for Missouri, three dollars will go back to the Show-Me-State.

Scott Holste, spokesman for Governor Jay Nixon’s office, says while the numbers sound drastic, they’re in line with cuts being made across the board.

“The cut to tourism is 7 million dollars but that’s also a division that’s carrying over 4.5 million dollars from the previous fiscal year. So the bottom line cut is going to be about 2.5 million dollars. That’s about 10% of the overall budget, and really when you look at it, that is really in line with what other agencies are having to absorb.”

The Missouri Division of Tourism markets throughout the United States, as well as internationally in the United Kingdom and Canada.

For KSMU News, I’m Adam Hammons.