A county commissioner wonders if tourism bucks could be spent better elsewhere | SummitDaily.com

A county commissioner wonders if tourism bucks could be spent better elsewhere

BRECKENRIDGE – Summit County Commissioner Tom Long wonders if the $10 million the Legislature approved to market the state of Colorado might be better used elsewhere.

The House approved the additional expenditure Monday as part of a $19 million economic stimulus package. Gov. Bill Owens is expected to sign the bill today.

Long sent an e-mail Tuesday to Stephanie Dalgar, public relations specialist with the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO), asking how CTO officials know $10 million will bring $500 million in spending to the state, to which the office is accountable and how the efficacy of the CTO’s efforts will be monitored.

Tourism officials said they do not know how the money will be divvied up, but CTO officials said they likely will use it for print and television promotions, matching grants and to improve the state’s welcome centers.

They say it’s worth it.

According to CTO officials, a $10 million investment in marketing the state should result in roughly $500 million in spending, $27.5 million in new tax revenue and 7,800 new tourism-industry jobs.

“Is that what we ought to do with that $10 million – especially when it will bring only $27.5 million back?” he said. “Is that $27.5 million a result of the $500 million? If so, we’re not doing very good. I just wonder if we shouldn’t put it somewhere else where it would be a better investment.”

Long maintains he’s not against advertising but wonders if now is the right time for it.

“I think we need to correct other problems in this state before we bring more people here,” he said. “We need to fix problems that are a result of having all these people come here – things like our highways and transportation.”

Long has philosophical concerns about the $10 million expenditure, as well, equating it to subsidizing large, publicly-owned companies, such as Vail Resorts.

He said the state likely will promote a lot of skiing and rafting – two of Colorado’s most popular activities – which isn’t fair to the other recreation sectors throughout the state, such as hunting, biking and fishing, among many others. Long wants to know who will ensure the ads help the state as a whole.

He also wonders if ski officials, who already spend millions to advertise their resorts, would cut back on their own spending if the state depicts skiing in its promotional material. That, Long said, would mean taxpayers would be footing the bill to advertise publicly owned companies.

“A little place like A-Basin – they deserve all the help they can give them,” Long said. “I’m not sure spending tax dollars in a tax crunch to support Wall Street companies is good. We didn’t advertise for Qwest when they were going down the tubes. Shouldn’t they (ski resorts) pay for their own advertising?”

He’s not keen on the idea of an additional 7,800 jobs, primarily because they are usually low-paying, service-sector jobs that, again, benefit publicly owned companies.

Long also wants to see results.

“I know advertising tourism in Colorado is like mom, God and apple pie,” he said. “But how will they know that they actually created $500 million? If there’s no monitoring of the situation, no way to directly measure it, how do we know what’s going on? I want to see some accountability.”


Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.

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