Infrastructure Proposal Would Hurt State’s Tourism Economy

A proposal to use $100 million in general revenue funds for infrastructure in Missouri will have the side effect of hurting the state’s tourism economy.

That’s because the plan announced Wednesday during a press conference called by House Budget Chair Cody Smith and House Speaker Elijah Haahr will be funded in part by cuts in funding proposed for the state’s tourism marketing agency.

The Division of Tourism’s current budget is about $15 million. Gov. Mike Parson last fall said he wanted to add an additional $5 million to the budget in FY 2020 to boost tourism promotion that will bring more visitors – and their money – to the state. That won’t happen under the plan announced by Smith and Haahr.

Parson’s recommendation for FY 2020 came on the heels of former Gov. Eric Greitens cutting the Division of Tourism budget from about $20 million to $10 million in 2017. After Greitens resigned from office and Parson became governor in 2018, legislators returned $5 million to the budget for the current fiscal year.

The additional $5 million Parson recommended would have taken the budget back to its 2017 level and boosted the Division of Tourism budget for cooperative marketing programs. Cooperative marketing funds are distributed to destination marketing organizations statewide, which match those funds and use the money for tourism promotion.

Participating organizations include the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau.

According to legislation that establishes the Division of Tourism budget based on growth in tourism, the budget should be about $40 million.

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Tracy Kimberlin is the President & CEO of the Springfield, Missouri, Convention & Visitors Bureau

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