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05132013 Chris Brown: Why Invest In Tourism?
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Why Spend Dollars On Tourism Promotion? Ask Colorado.

-by Chris Brown, WTIC Administrator

What would happen if tourism marketing dollars were not invested in Wyoming? Would the state still be able to separate itself from the surrounding Rocky Mountain states competing for the same travelers? Would we be recklessly leaving over 30,000 Wyoming jobs to chance? Surely visitors aspiring to enjoy a true American western vacation would think of and visit Wyoming regardless, right?

Consider these facts that show how important a strong, well-funded tourism program is for the economic health of all of us in Wyoming.

In 1993 Colorado became the only state to completely eliminate its tourism and marketing promotion - cutting its $12 million budget entirely. In the following two years, Colorado's domestic market share plummeted 30 percent, representing a loss of more than $1.4 billion in tourism revenue annually. As time passed, this revenue loss increased to over $2 billion annually. The once-mighty Colorado summer resort segment dropped from first place among states to 17th. After a failed attempt at marketing the state with private funds, the industry convinced the legislature to once again fund tourism promotion seven years later with a minimal budget of $5 million. In 2006 Colorado's budget was increased to $19 million annually and by 2007, travel to Colorado rebounded to record levels with 28 million visitors spending $9.8 billion in the state.

As any national company or advertiser knows, there are always people returning, but it's more important to find those "new prospects." State tourism visitation, like a business, either grows or slows.

The Wyoming Office of Tourism budget also is the vehicle to stimulate intelligent and effective marketing by local-option lodging-tax boards and local businesses across the state. The $12.5 million invested in Wyoming's 2012 domestic and international marketing efforts focused on attracting a wide scope of visitors to our great state. Upon their arrival it is up to the local lodging-tax boards to then attract these visitors to their city or county. In 2012 lodging-tax boards across the state invested $13.5 million in marketing and advertising to showcase all their city or county has to offer to visiting tourists. Finally, private businesses invested $10.3 million in 2012 with a focus of driving traffic to their hotels, restaurants and main-street shops. All three entities contribute to the overall health of our vibrant tourism industry and truly facilitate maximum exposure and visibility at all levels. Without the expertise and national exposure from the state, these efforts would be unfocused and frequently much less effective.

Wyoming is so fortunate to be blessed with the natural wonder and cowboy heritage that draws visitors from across the country and around the world. As our state's second largest industry, tourism employed 30,500 Wyoming residents in 2012, accounting for 8 percent of our state's overall employment.

In 2012 Wyoming enjoyed a record year as economic impact numbers eclipsed previous high-water marks significantly. The number of visitors to our state grew from 8.34 million in 2011 to 8.67 million, representing a 4 percent increase. Those 8.67 million visitors spent a record $3.1 billion purchasing goods and services from Wyoming businesses. In turn, those travel-generated purchases resulted in an impressive $128 million in local and state sales tax revenues, up 7.8 percent over the previous year. These record numbers represent new money coming into Wyoming, play a significant role in diversifying our state's economy and are the result of a smart and well-placed marketing plan that delivers a solid return on investment. For every $1 invested in 2012 by the state of Wyoming to support tourism marketing efforts, $6 was returned in state sales tax revenues.

The broad base of statewide associations listed below wish to sincerely thank Gov. Matt Mead and those elected officials who continually make the decision to invest in Wyoming's tourism industry. By doing so they invest in Wyoming jobs and keep our state and its abundance of natural resources and rich history visible to the rest of the country and to an increasing international market.

  • Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition
  • Wyoming County Commissioners Association
  • Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association
  • Wyoming Stock Growers Association
  • Wyoming Retail Association
  • Wyoming Economic Development Association
  • Wyoming State Liquor Association
  • Wyoming Outdoor Council
  • Wyoming Dude Ranchers Association

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