Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

An Itinerary for Pennsylvania the Commonwealth's Tourism Marketing Budget Is Critical

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

An Itinerary for Pennsylvania the Commonwealth's Tourism Marketing Budget Is Critical

Article excerpt

Pennsylvania's legislators, like many of their counterparts across the country, are deep in the process of determining how the state's taxpayer dollars should be spent in the upcoming budget year. In adjudging the state's fiscal course, I urge lawmakers to draw a distinction between "spending" and "investment." One item that falls squarely into the latter category: funding for the Pennsylvania Tourism Office.

In Pennsylvania, tourism generates tax revenues that far exceed the state's investment in marketing the state. In fact, according to a 2015 report released by the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, every $1 invested in tourism marketing generates $3.43 in tax revenue, which can be used to pay for public safety, education and other essential programs.

Less than a decade ago, Pennsylvania was investing $30 million each year in tourism marketing and promotion. Unfortunately, since then, Pennsylvania has become the perfect case study of what happens when a state substantially cuts its tourism budget.

Over a six-year period, 37 million fewer tourists visited the state, and Pennsylvania's market share of overseas visitors declined 24 percent after lawmakers slashed the state's tourism budget, according to the PRLA study. Where did all those travelers go? To New York, Connecticut, Maryland and a number of other states that had increased their spending on tourism marketing and promotion during the same period. As a result, Pennsylvania lost $7.7 billion in visitor spending, close to $450 million in state tax revenues and $165 million in local tax revenues.

The bottom line: The state's effort to "save" a total of $125 million by defunding tourism marketing from 2009 to 2014 resulted in a net loss of $324 million.

The impact of tourism is not just statewide - travel and tourism have far-reaching benefits at the local and regional level, and Pittsburgh is no exception.

Between its beautiful scenery, rich history, top-notch food and drink, and unrivaled sports scene, the tourism industry is vital to the success of Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania as a whole. …

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