State may boost bucks for tourism promotion
SUMMIT COUNTY – The old axiom, “You have to spend money to make money” definitely applies to promotion of Colorado’s tourism industry, according to state tourism officials.The problem is, they say, is that Colorado spends a relatively small amount of money to promote its wilderness, ski resorts and other tourist attractions. That may change this legislative session, if a bill now navigating its way through House channels eventually wins passage. House Bill 1206, currently before the state House Appropriations Committee, would boost tourism industry marketing dollars to $20 million from the $5 million the state now spends every year.
State Rep. Gary Lindstrom, the Breckenridge Democrat whose district includes Eagle County, is a co-sponsor of the bill, which could have a measurable impact on resort economies that depend on tourists.”We need to create a consistent source of funding for tourism promotion,” said Lindstrom, who also wants the Democratic candidate for governor. “You sit at home and watch ads for Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, West Virginia – and you wonder, ‘Where’s Colorado?’ It’s kind of a mystery why we don’t do it. It’s really crazy.” Under the bill, the extra money would be diverted from the state’s limited-stakes gaming industry into Colorado’s general fund. If passed, the extra dough would be used to expand Colorado’s national and international advertising campaigns, said Pete Meersman, chairman of state’s tourism board.Meersman testified on the bill’s behalf last week at the State Capitol, and presented some astonishing numbers to lawmakers. He reported that Colorado ranks fifth in tourist “desirability” – it’s the fifth most mentioned place that people want to visit in the U.S. However, Colorado ranks a distant 23rd in national tourism market share.
Colorado ranks just 35th nationally in terms of total amount spent on tourism promotion. If the bill passes, Colorado would leapfrog to the top 15 nationally in tourism spending.Meersman also said that for every dollar spent promoting Colorado tourism, the state gets $336 dollars back in spending by tourists. And of those $336 dollars, $10.34 ends up as state sales taxes, and $10.51 goes to local taxes.”We can show a direct relationship between money spent and money coming back in, and it’s coming back right now at 10-to-1,” Meersman said.One of the groups that’s likely to see a big impact is Colorado Ski Country U.S.A., who are charged with marketing Colorado ski resorts across the country. They’re a direct link between the ski resorts and Meersman’s Colorado Tourism Office.
“(The bill) will allow us to have a greater year-round presence, and we’ll be able to do more marketing in our key core markets,” said Rob Perlman, chief executive of Colorado Ski Country U.S.A. He said the group’s core markets nationally are California, New York, Illinois, Florida and Texas.”We’re excited about the prospects,” Perlman said. “Our community realizes that there’s a good return on our investment in tourism promotion – and that affects all different industries.”Vail, Colorado