SAN FRANCISCO -- Lobbying by the California travel and tourism
industries saved the state's Division of Tourism from the budget
ax, but only a skeleton operation remains.
California's contentious budget-wrangling left the Division of
Tourism with $929,000, which, with funding from travel firms in the
state, enables the office to keep seven full-time staffers and a
part-time employee on payroll to help maintain operations of the
state tourism Web site and toll-free numbers and fulfill requests
for tourism brochures and other material.
There will have to be deep cuts in advertising, public relations
and other forms of promotion, said Terri Taylor-Solorio, president
of the Sacramento-based California Travel Industry Association
"We're going to have to tighten our belts and be more creative,"
The Division of Tourism received $7.3 million annually from
state coffers for the last several years.
This year, facing a budget crisis, Gov. Gray Davis proposed to
do away with the division entirely. The industry ultimately
convinced the legislature and the governor to save the division
from extinction with the $929,000 outlay.
"It keeps the door open for the possibility of more funding next
year," said Taylor-Solorio.
The funding from the state is combined with $6.8 million per
year raised through the California Tourism Marketing Act, which
levies assessments on travel companies in the state.
The total state tourism promotion budget was about $14 million
last year. With the slash in the state contribution, the total
budget for 2003-2004 is just under $8 million.
"It's a most unfortunate situation because we are in competition
with other states, and this puts us at a huge disadvantage," said
However, dire predictions early this year that the slashed
funding would lead to brochure requests unfulfilled, Web-site
closure and tourism office phones disconnected will not come to
pass, she said.
"The day-to-day operation will continue, but it will leave very
little money for actual advertising and public relations,"
The Division of Tourism was part of a state agency -- the
California Trade, Technology and Commerce Agency -- that was a
victim of the budget ax and has closed down. As a result, the
division has been shifted to the Business, Transportation and