The Price of Tourism

By Beacon Staff

As states continue to find creative ways to close massive budget deficits, Washington has decided to take the drastic step of completely shuttering its statewide tourism office. <a href="" title="From The New York Times“>From The New York Times:

This month, as a result of wide-ranging budget cuts passed this year by the Democratic-controlled Legislature, Washington became the only state in the nation with no statewide tourism office and no state money to promote itself to travelers.

The cut has been attributed purely to having to make tough choices between financing programs like public education and paying for glossy marketing campaigns.

In contrast, it’s difficult for residents there to escape Montana’s award-winning tourism effort. In Seattle, like other urban areas such as Chicago and Minneapolis, the Big Sky state is heavily promoted on billboards and buses.

The “Nothing Here” ad campaign for the Montana Office of Tourism won the prestigious silver Effie award in the travel category last month. And, according to the former head of the tourism office in Washington, the promotional effort is having an impact.

“If you live in the greater Puget Sound area and you don’t want to go to Montana by now, you haven’t been paying attention,” said Marsha Massey, executive director of the Washington State Tourism Office — until it closed. “Even I want to go to Montana.”

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