Boost in state tourism spending is welcome news |

Boost in state tourism spending is welcome news

Gov. Owens had it right when he proposed and fought for spending an extra $10 million on state tourism promotion. His proposal passed a tight-fisted Legislature Monday.

Our local legislators, Rep. Carl Miller, D-Leadville, and state Sen. Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Golden, both voted for the bill.

While it’s only a one-year burst of spending, that goes on top of $5.5 million customarily appropriated to tourism promotion, we will take what we can get in this climate.

Colorado has suffered since 1992, when voters killed a .02 percent sales tax on tourism-related business. Since that time, tourism has experienced a decline in destination visitation. First, the trend hit the outlying parts of the state, especially the Four Corners.

In recent years, the High Country has felt the pain. It’s somewhat hard to tell if you count cars on the road, but every small business person in Summit County knows well that destination-business has fallen off.

In the world of discretionary spending, business has to advertise to make profits. Tourism is the king-pin of discretionary spending, and Colorado has fallen off top-of-mind consideration for potential travelers.

It didn’t used to be that way.

In the interim, Colorado’s economy was buffered by the dot-com and telecom rages, but when they went bust, the state’s declining tourism profile looked even more ugly.

The new, one-year level of funding does not get back to the levels of 1992 promotional spending, adjusted for inflation. But it is a start.

Growth-busters won’t like this news. For them, a declining economy is the right medicine. Most folks, having witnessed what declining private and public revenues can do, should disagree.

For a short time, the economy was overheated by the raging success of dot-coms and telecoms. The con was on, in a way. Nobody thought the pendulum would swing the other way.

Destination tourism can produce a more sustainable economy both for the state and the High Country.

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