SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- After two years without any state funding for tourism, the California Travel and Tourism Commission (CTTC) received a $7.3 million allocation from the state legislature for the fiscal year that started July 1.

The legislature made the allocation with the provision that the privately run commission makes a matching contribution of some $4 million.

The CTTC already generates $6.9 million each year from assessments of 5,500 California tourism or travel-related businesses.

The additional $4 million will bring CTTCs 2005-06 budget to $18.25 million, said Caroline Beteta, CTTC executive director. Its going to be a colossal jump, she said.

The CCTC will generate the extra $4 million through voluntary assessments and contributions that will be directed to co-op programs, she said.

During the last two years, California had no tourism marketing funds from public sources.

With a budget of $6.9 million -- compared with $14 million in 2002 -- the CTTC could only spend about $2 million on advertising.

With the new budget, some $8 million will be devoted to advertising, but the CTTC will stretch that amount to $10 million through cooperative campaigns with partners, such as airlines, she said.

Most will be spent on national cable TV advertising, using the campaign of the last two years: California. Find Yourself Here.

Beteta said the additional funding will enable the CTTC to restore a program that promotes rural California and devote more marketing and public relations dollars to domestic and international markets.

The added funding will help raise Californias market share, which has been stagnant, she said.

Weve seen some direct correlation between the downsizing of our funding and market share, she said.

Even though Californias domestic visitors rose from 300 million in 2003 to 314 million in 2004, Beteta said the state lost market share to states such as Nevada and Hawaii that spend millions more on promotion.

In 2003, we had 10.7% of domestic market share, and in 2004 we were at 10.8% so we were flat. In 2002, we had been at 11.5%, so you can see the slump from the fall-off in the advertising program, she said.

The cut in public funding came during Californias fiscal crisis, which affected virtually every state program.

While the state still faces a deficit and budget constraints, Beteta said, the difference is that we have state leadership today [under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger] that sees tourism as a key industry.

The CTTC is a nonprofit entity created by the legislature in 1995 to develop and maintain marketing programs through annual assessments, which were combined with public funding each year.

Two years ago, with the elimination of public funding, the state office of tourism was shut down and the CTTC took over much of its efforts in promotion and fulfillment.

To contact reporter Laura Del Rosso, send e-mail to [email protected].

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