Highlights of the Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition (WTIC) since May 1989
WTIC was organized to act as the one voice for the travel industry concerning legislative issues that affect all of us. Today there are 75 corporate, association and individual members. WTIC is an organization that has proven its effectiveness for advocacy and lobbying for support of state tourism issues for almost two decades.
Some of the key issues that the WTIC has successfully worked on include:
1989 - WTIC did a survey on political issues among our membership and found that the Wyoming Travel Commission budget was the #1 priority. The WTIC wrote to the Appropriations Committee supporting the existing budget.
1990 - WTIC met at annual Governors Tourism Conference and in Jackson. We held an issues workshop and passed several resolutions. Continued support for the Wyoming Division of Tourism was #1 priority.
1991 - WTIC decided to support the Wyoming Division of Tourism Advisory Committee (formerly Travel Commission) with a request for $200,000 additional matching funds money. Unfortunately, the bill passed in House but failed in the Senate.
WTIC also conducted a consensus building workshop in Casper. We discussed the Wyoming Division of Tourism budget, criteria for matching funds, criteria for evaluating successful tourism promotion projects and the lodging tax. The report was presented to the Joint Legislative Travel, Recreation and Wildlife Committee.
With a tough budget session ahead of us, we focused on one issue, continued Wyoming Division of Tourism funding.
1992 - WTIC had meetings with legislators before the session to discuss Division of Tourism funding. We also worked with the Wyoming Lodging & Restaurant Association (WLRA) to build a grassroots key contact system for legislative and emerging issues.
WLRA provided funds and resources for constant information and a good key contact system. WTIC members contacted legislators throughout the session to support $300,000 Emergency Funding and to defeat a proposal for 5% cuts. The Division of Tourism experienced a $100,000 reduction in the Governors Recommended budget of $7.2 million, one of the lowest reductions in all state government. These results were due to industry lobbying efforts, some dedicated legislators and a respected Director of the Division of Tourism.
Later that year, WTIC met in Gillette in October to study tourism funding in other states. We determined four funding options for further consideration.
1993 - WTIC co-sponsored a reception for legislators during the Governors Tourism Conference and held a Tourism Summit Meeting to chart a unified course for tourism development in Wyoming that will take the industry into the 21st century.
In September, WTIC met in Casper and discussed committee reports on Supplemental Funding for the Division of Tourism. WTIC decided to support the Division of Tourism's $2 billion in income from tourism by the Year 2000 program. We also chose to survey the private sector on funding options.
WTIC made a presentation to the Joint Legislative Travel Committee supporting the "$2 billion by 2000” program.
1994 - WTIC aggressively lobbied for an additional $500,000 for the Division of Tourism and succeeded! Other tourism projects also received support from the legislature. WTIC also co-sponsored a Legislative Reception during Travel Day.
1995 - We polled membership on changes in lodging tax and opposed legislative changes that would divert lodging tax funds away from tourism promotion.
WTIC had a video conference December 5 to discuss Governors budget. We also organized to restore cuts to the Division of Tourism.
1996 - Legislators did not cut Division of Tourism budget and added $125,000 to the budget in a year that many departments saw significant cut-backs in budget.
We also held two meetings to brainstorm funding options. No consensus was reached since no alternative would successfully replace General Fund amounts or tax as broad a base as the General Fund.
1997 - WTIC participated in June in a marketing workshop in Douglas hosted by the Division of Tourism. The purpose was to get industry input for the next year’s Division of Tourism Plan. In September we held a Tourism Summit and Board meeting in Casper to determine the legislative agenda for the next year. A key issue was continued tourism funding for the Division of Tourism.
WTIC Board members attended Joint Legislative Travel, Wildlife and Recreation Committee meeting in Lander to successfully support the tourism funding.
WTIC also co-hosted a video conference to be briefed on the proposed Wyoming Business Council.
1998 - WTIC celebrated one of its most successful funding increase in tourism funding ever with a $1.4 million increase in funding for advertising and fulfillment for the Division of Tourism. New Wyoming Business Council legislation earmarked current tourism funding for tourism.
1999 - WTIC successfully defended the new structure of the Division of Tourism within the Wyoming Business Council.
WTIC successfully supported an additional $2 million for the Division of Tourism in the 2001 legislative session. That same year, WTIC successfully supported earmarking the Division of Tourism budget in the Wyoming Business Council.
In 2002, WTIC successfully supported continuing the $2 million appropriation for the FY 2004 budget to both the Joint Appropriations Committee and the entire legislature. An amendment to reduce the appropriation by $500,000 was defeated in the Senate.
WTIC supported a budget footnote in the 2003 Wyoming Legislature that created a Governor appointed Tourism Board with authority to control the budget, program and appoint a Director.
2004 and 2005 turned out to be one of our most successful years when we successfully supported an addition of $5.6 million to the standard tourism biennial budget of $11.6 million. For fiscal year 2008, the biennial budget will have risen to $21.5 million.
1989 – WTIC was formed in Sheridan. One of our first priorities was a local option lodging tax dedicated to tourism and to prevent a state lodging tax.
1991 – In the WTIC consensus building workshop in Casper the lodging tax remained a high priority as we gave our recommendations to the Joint Legislative Travel, Recreation and Wildlife Committee.
1992 – WTIC determined that although local lodging tax was an effective tool for tourism promotion, a state lodging tax would actually hurt local marketing efforts.
In 1993 WTIC met in Casper and discussed coordination with lodging tax boards and "Educating the Public” and "Doing More with Less.” . We also surveyed the private sector on funding options.
1995 - WTIC polled membership on changes in lodging tax and opposed legislative changes that would divert lodging tax funds away from tourism promotion.
Later that year, WTIC held a statewide meeting in Riverton for lodging tax boards to compare notes on operations.
In January 1997, WTIC opposed a bill to drastically change the lodging tax law.
Later that year our Tourism Summit and Board meeting determined the legislative agenda should include lodging tax legislation to make the law more attractive to Teton County voters. In September, Board members attended a Joint Legislative Travel, Wildlife and Recreation Committee meeting in Lander and obtained support for the issue in December.
1998 – WTIC Board members met with lodging tax boards around the state on House Bill 75, Lodging Tax Revisions, to make sure it was supported exactly as drafted with no amendments. The bill passed without changes later that year.
1999 – WTIC President Marlyn Black testified to Tax Reform 2000 concerning the up to 2% fee taken from lodging tax revenues for a reserve fund.
WTIC successfully opposes attempts in the 2000 and 2001 legislative sessions for a statewide lodging tax. The bill only got 13 votes for introduction in 2000 and only got one vote in the Revenue Committee in 2001.
Also, WTIC successfully worked with the Wyoming Association of Municipalities to eliminate the 2% reserve from lodging and sales tax.
Over the last years, the WTIC has successfully resisted attempts to institute a state-wide lodging tax and to also protect the funding to our local tourism marketing that is created by the local option lodging tax. This battle, no doubt, will continue.