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April 15, 2003 – States Adjust Tourism Budgets

The war in Iraq, the stagnant economy and high gasoline prices have hit tourism-dependent states hard. With their state budgets in free-fall, Arizona and California are considering cutting tourism-promotion funds, while most states are holding the line on tourism spending. Florida, Colorado and Hawaii are considering a different strategy, having proposed large one-time funding increases to help jump-start tourism. New Mexico lawmakers approved a small boost. Arizona legislative leaders floated the idea of eliminating the state Office of Tourism’s $9 million budget, but the industry responded with a major lobbying effort and it appears at least some of the funding will be retained. California Governor Gray Davis proposed eliminating the state portion of tourism funding. The $14.2 million budget includes $7.4 million from the state and $6.8 million from assessments on tourism-related businesses. Last week, the California Assembly voted to restore state tourism funding but at a 10 percent lower level than this year.