19 Aug 2011

One Voice / One Message for Tourism Investment

A View from America: Tourism is an Investment!

Reflecting on all the changes in UK tourism over the last 18 months I do not remember a single argument being made by a DMO for the continuation of tourism funding based on the ROI that investment in tourism brings. Seems they have had a similar problem across the pond.

The following article was written by Troy Thompson of Travel2dot0.com

If perception is the cornerstone of public support, then the media is the stonemason. Shaping the public perception of tourism. And our approach with the media must become a unified voice for tourism.

It is time to get our story straight.

Tourism is an investment.

Not an expense, not a cost, not a budget item.


Earlier this week, I was depressed while reading the story, and subsequent comments, from States cut back on efforts to draw tourists. Nothing wrong with the writing from Roger...he and I have worked together in the past and he is a true professional.

No, the issue is the tourism industry's lack of understanding when speaking with members of the media.

Here are just a few highlights from the piece:

...avoiding expensive trade shows...had its budget lowered and capped at $69 million...learning to do without expensive advertising tools...when its budget was $26 million, her office spent $9 million on advertising...

Not a word about investment, tax revenue or economic impact.

To the average person reading this story it sounds like state DMOs buy expensive ads, attend tradeshows in far-away destinations and bitch when the budget gets cut from $81 million to $69 million per year.

Not exactly the best way to win the hearts and minds of an American public who has always been skeptical of government spending, just watched a train wreck of lawmaking on Capital Hill and still a bit nervous about their job.

DMOs must understand how our comments on these issues create perceptions about our industry.

For example, here is the quote from the Arizona Office of Tourism:

Now that its fiscal year 2012 budget is $8.6 million compared with $19 million in 2009, Henry's office focuses on Chicago and Los Angeles. "We don't have the bandwidth we once had," she says.

And here is what should have been said:

Over the past 3 years, the budget for the Arizona Office of Tourism has been reduced by $10.4 million, which translates into a loss of $155,480,000 million dollars in tax revenue for state and local communities. "Each time a million dollars is cut from our investment in tourism, the residents of Arizona miss out on nearly $15 million dollars in tax revenue, and tourists provide nearly 80% of that revenue."

Argument over.

Stop saying the word budget and start using the word investment.
Reporters are paid to report what they hear.

It is up to us to inform them correctly, educate them on the impact of tourism and tell our story in a way that wins the support of Joe American.

Reporters report, now it is time for tourism advocates, to advocate.