In an effort to close large budget caps in the state’s deficit, Washington state closed its tourism office on Friday. While cutting out a chunk of the deficit, this does make the state the only in the nation to not be spending money to bring in tourism to make money for the state.
The proposed cut was put on the table back in December of 2010 when Governor Christine Gregoire laid out ideas to cut into the $5.2 billion budget deficit.”It would be incredibly difficult to use taxpayer dollars to support our tourism office, while at the same time make significant cuts to education and health care,” Gregoire spokeswoman Karina Shagren said. “[He] is working closely with the private sector to ensure potential visitors continue to know about the attractions and the beautiful natural wonders found in Washington state,” she said.
Despite this, nationwide states are divided over what to do with budgeting and the tourism office. Half with deficits are cutting spending in the office, while another half have increased spending. Numbers to support the latter are actually found in Washington. Direct travel spending in Washington state was $15.2 billion in 2010, up 7.4 percent from 2009. Increases in travel spending generates revenue for the state. If a correlation could be found between the increased revenue and actions of the tourism office, funding the office could be validated.
In the mean time, Washington’s Tourism Office’s website is on standby with a message to viewers saying, “Stay tuned.”