Investing in tourism is investing in jobs and our communities

When your governing philosophy is "government is evil" and "public spending is waste," you often end up cutting off your nose to spite your face.

 

The House Republican budget is a good example. We've seen a steady illustration how the knee-jerk, across-the-board cuts in House Bill 218 would hurt you and your family, stifle jobs and the economy, and make Pennsylvania's budget challenges even worse in the future.

 

The latest example: tourism. Pennsylvania's tourism industry supports more than 310,000 jobs directly and close to half a million in total. Most of these businesses are small, family-owned operations that provide jobs in the community and encourage local economic growth.

 

Unfortunately, the Republican budget slashes the governor's suggested investment of $10 million for tourism marketing in Pennsylvania to just $2.5 million.

 

Every $1 invested in tourism marketing generates nearly $3.50 in state tax revenue, plus more in local revenues. So this is about more than just helping tourism-related businesses -- it's about being able to pay for our schools, public safety, highways and bridges, sewers and water lines, and other services that benefit every Pennsylvania community and family every day.

 

Pennsylvania's competitors -- New York, Virginia and Washington D.C. just to name three -- are outspending us on tourism marketing by 5 to 1, 3 to 1, and 2.5 to 1 respectively.

 

Less than a decade ago, Pennsylvania was investing $30 million in tourism marketing; the House Republican budget cuts that amount to $2.5 million for 2017-18.

 

In the last six years, New York dramatically increased its investment in tourism marketing and saw a 46% gain in market share among its nine competitor states. During the same time, Pennsylvania's cuts to tourism funding have cost it more than 47 million visitors, $7.7 billion in visitor spending, $3.2 billion in income for our working families, and nearly half a billion dollars in state revenues. 

 

Republican budgets of the past have doled out billions of taxpayer dollars to huge corporations and wealthy industries that flood the Capitol with lobbyists and special interest money -- even though there's little accounting for the results they promise. 

 

Tourism's has proven its worth to Pennsylvania -- in jobs, small business growth and revenues. Pennsylvania should further that success with investments that support the industry, not cuts that smother it.