TIA: States to spend record $686M on promotion

WASHINGTON -- State tourism offices will spend a record $686 million promoting tourism this fiscal year, a 5.6% increase compared with 1999-2000, according to the Travel Industry Association of America's 2000-2001 survey of U.S. state and territory tourism offices.

Illinois will spend $61.1 million to promote its tourism this fiscal year, more than any other state, according to the survey. The Illinois budget, which will be up 10% compared with the prior year, puts it just head of Hawaii, which allocated $61 million.

Rounding out the top five state tourism budgets were Florida (at $59.8 million), Pennsylvania ($45.9 million) and Texas ($32.2 million).

Delaware had the largest tourism budget increase, an 85% jump to $2.3 million.

TIA said the large budgets were arguably justified because, according to William Norman, TIA president and chief executive officer, "For many [states], the travel industry is their first-, second- or third-largest employer, and a major source of new jobs."

Most of these tourism budgets will be used for advertising, TIA said. For example, Hawaii has allocated some $11.1 million of its budget to domestic advertising; Texas will use $10.9 million.

States will collectively spend about $49.7 million on international advertising, TIA said. But despite the large sums, the association added, tourism marketing remains a challenge.

"Competition is fierce," said Norman. "Each of [the states] competes with one another -- not to mention with other countries and other discretionary activities -- for visitors' dollars."

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