CANTON, OH (June 30, 2009) – The Canton/Stark County Convention & Visitors’ Bureau works closely with a hard-working but woefully under-funded state Division of Travel & Tourism to bring travelers and events first to Ohio, and ultimately to the Stark County area. Now a push is being made to eliminate funding for the state Division, This action would lead to Ohio being a state without a tourism budget surrounded by states where tourism is being strongly funded, like Michigan, which has recently launched a $30 million tourism campaign.

Tourism is a revenue generator, not an expense. According to independent research, in 2007 visitors spent $38 billion annually in Ohio, $7.2 billion of that right here in Central Ohio. This generated $1.6 billion in state taxes. Additional research has demonstrated that Ohio receives $12 in visitor spending for every dollar it spends on advertising.

Competition is fiercer than ever for travelers whose spending translates into jobs, wages, and billions of dollars in state and local tax revenues each year. Now is the wrong time for the state to abandon the tourism marketplace. Tourism marketing attracts visitors to spend money now in our hotels, restaurants, museums, entertainment venues and shops. We do not need to look far into the future to realize the return on this investment.

A Legislative Conference Committee has been charged with delivering a balanced budget to the governor by June 30. It is important that lawmakers hear from concerned citizens and industry stakeholders with a message about how individuals and businesses will be negatively impacted by the loss of Ohio tourism marketing. We urge you to contact the legislators from your district with a simple message:

As you struggle to balance the Ohio budget without raising taxes, please consider that the Ohio Division of Tourism can be part of the solution. Tourism supports Ohio businesses and jobs with visitor revenue from outside the state of Ohio. Don't eliminate a proven source of revenue for libraries, education, health care and other essential programs and services for the citizens of Ohio.