The Missouri Division of Tourism tells a House committee Monday in Jefferson City that 2016 was a record year for tourism in the Show-Me State.
The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) and its Division of Tourism presented their budget blueprints before the House Budget Committee.
Tourism Director Dan Lennon testifies that one out of 12 Missouri jobs is tourism-related.
“FY (fiscal year) 16 was a year in which tourism generated an all-time record $16.5 billion in economic impact, 41.7 million visitors and more than 307,000 jobs associated with tourism,” says Lennon.
Lennon tells lawmakers that tourism is also a good investment in Missouri.
“In FY ’16, every dollar invested in our budget generated $92 in additional tourism expenditures and importantly returned $3.98 in state tax revenues back to the state of Missouri, return of nearly four to one,” Lennon testifies.
House Budget Committee Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob) wants to see what the statistics were from a few years ago.
“If you’re telling me that it’s a four-to-one return from a tax revenue standpoint, a 92-to-one return as far as the spending that it generates, you know show me what the spending was four years ago when the appropriation was 50 percent less than it is now,” Fitzpatrick says.
Governor Eric Greitens’ (R) proposed budget reduces the Tourism Commission’s budget from about $26 million to about $21 million. Chairman Fitzpatrick notes there have been withholdings, which he says will lessen the impact of the proposed cuts.
More than 41 million people visited Missouri in fiscal year 2016, according to Lennon.
“Where the tourism activity is in the state, the largest areas are St. Louis, Kansas City and Branson,” Lennon says. “But actually, from a tourism standpoint St. Louis and Kansas City are larger. Columbia, Springfield, of course Lake of the Ozarks, there are a number of areas that are large tourism areas.”
Lennon tells the Budget Committee that there are five “activity buckets” in Missouri: arts and culture, outdoor recreation, family fun, sports and gaming and nightlife and entertainment.
The Division of Tourism advocates for the development of Missouri’s travel and tourism industry. The DED website says the Division was created under legislation approved by Missouri lawmakers in 1967.