Can “cooperation” get Gov. Nixon $53 for every $1 he spends on tourism marketing?

One of the most honest statements the Ole Seagull has every heard, and one every business should be committed to is, “You have to spend money to make money.” You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket; have a successful business if you do not invest in the product that the business is providing, the people providing it and its marketing or be successful in most other financial endeavors without spending money.

A recent Associated Press article entitled, “Mo. tourist spending down last year; state officials call for increase in tourism marketing,” reported that “Visitors spent about $53 for every dollar the state spent marketing tourism in 2010, up from about $47 in 2009. It went on to say that “the state saw about $3 in tax revenue for every dollar it invested in the tourism division’s budget, up from $2.54 the year before and went on to report that Missouri’s, “Gov. Nixon proposes to spend about $13.4 million this year [2011], the same amount spent last year [2010] to market tourism in Missouri.”

At first blush that sounds great, there is a commitment of cooperation between Gov. Nixon and the state’s tourism industry to spend what is necessary to bring into the state tourist dollars that exceed state marketing expenditures for those revenues by a ratio of 53 to 1. That’s the way it should be, but a closer look at the article indicates otherwise.

What did the 2010 expenditure get Missouri? According to the article the jobs in tourism related industries fell from 287,666 in 2009 to 281,255 in 2010, direct tourism spending went from $7.9 billion in 2009 to $7.42 billion in 2010 and the overall size of the state’s tourism industry also shrunk from $12.4 billion in 2009 to $11.4 in 2010. In the article, State tourism director Katie Steele Danner said, “Our current tourism budget calls for using a whisper rather than a bullhorn to tout the advantages that we offer” and said it would take at least $16 million to adequately market the state.

What does that have to do with Branson’s tourism success? A lot. A substantial amount of the money used to actually market Branson, as opposed to marketing funds used for administrative and other purposes, comes from marketing cooperation between Branson and the state of Missouri “working together toward the common goal” of marketing tourism within the state and Branson.

In an Ole Seagull’s mind, if the individual effort of the state and Branson each equaled “1” the combined individual effort would be 1 + 1 equaling “2.” However, with “Cooperation,” there is a resulting synergy where their individual efforts, instead of totaling “2” surpasses that by by an exponential amount. To an Ole Seagull that’s an example of where cooperation causes 1+1 to equal 10 or is it 106?

Come on Governor, for the good of the state as well as its tourism industry and Branson, why not make an honest, commitment to work in cooperation with our state’s tourism industry, Branson and your own Department of Tourism to give them the financial resources needed to share Missouri and all that it has to offer with the world effectively? Is there somewhere else Missouri can get a 53 to 1 return on its investments?

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