Maryland Tourism Funding Alert – Take Action!

We started off this legislative session on a positive note with a very successful Tourism Legislative Day.  We had excellent testimony during the hearings on the Tourism Funding bills.

Now, we have to ask you to do one more thing this Session…

The General Assembly is moving toward decision making time on the Office of Tourism and Tourism Development Board budget.  As you know, the Governor has asked the legislature to cut the Tourism Development Board’s marketing budget by $1 M.

However, the legislature’s budget analysts have asked the legislators to further cut the MTDB budget back to $2.5 million and not fund the legislatively mandated grants to the DMO’s until FY2013.

What we need you to do…

TAKE ACTION!

Please take a few minutes and go to our CAPWIZ website (click the TAKE ACTION! link.)  There is a model letter there waiting for you to send to your legislators.  All you have to do is enter your zip code, and it will automatically generate a letter to YOUR legislators.

In the body of the letter, we ask you to fill in what you spend on marketing and what kind of business you have.  Please fill in those blanks and erase the underline.  Also, you can change anything else in the letter that you want to make it your own, and we encourage you to do so.  BUT, Please do it today.  The budget decision sessions start early next week, and it is imperative that our legislators hear from us…

Below is the history of the Tourism Development Board Budget, so you have talking points if you wish to contact your legislators by phone as well.

Thank you for all your help.

Mary Jo McCulloch
President and CEO
Maryland Tourism Council
Maryland Hotel and Lodging Association

MARYLAND TOURISM DEVELOPMENT BOARD FUNDING

A Brief History

In 1992, HB 1590 passed the Maryland General Assembly creating the Maryland Tourism Development Board.  In 1993, a funding bill for the Board passed mandating that the Board be funded at $3M, and that amount would increase every year until it reached $6M.  Through a variety of cuts in the following years, the $6M was not reached until 1998.

(There is a separate budget line item for the Maryland Office of Tourism.  Until three years ago, their budget was pretty stable at $5.8 million.  Since that time, the Governor and the General Assembly have both cut their budget, until today it stands at approximately $4 m.  This year’s budget calls for $3.6 m.  Some of that reduction comes from the cut to payroll due to the closing of the State’s Welcome Centers., but the overall reduction in tourism budget since 1993 is over $2.2 m.)

In years since the mandated $6m, funding has stayed static at about that amount until three years ago, when the Governor recommended and the Legislature passed a budget of $7M for MTDB.  Unfortunately, almost as soon as the ink was dry, the State’s budget met with a dramatic shortfall, and the Tourism Development Board’s Marketing Budget was cut.

Last year, the legislature passed a $6M budget for tourism, but subsequent Board of Public Works cuts have reduced the MTDB budget to $4.2M

Of that $4.2 Million, $1.5 million was scheduled to go to the county destination marketing organizations in the form of grants for tourism promotion at the county level.  Due to the massive reductions to the Board’s budget, the county tourism grants were also cut.

This year, according to law, the Governor’s budget should have shown $6M to be allocated to MTDB for marketing.  However, the budget only includes $5M.  We are assured that this error will be corrected in the Supplemental Budget, which usually is introduced in March.  But, the Budget Reconciliation Act requests that that amount be cut by $1.M this year, and that the Legislature relieve the Governor from having to allocate $6M in the budget next year.

We ask that the General Assembly assure that the Tourism Development Board budget be fully funded at the $6M.  By law, $2.5M must go to the county tourism offices in grants from the Board in FY 2011, essentially giving the Board only $3.5M for marketing the State to potential tourists.

We further ask that the Maryland Office of Tourism also be fully funded.  Tourism has suffered continual cuts over the past several years, so that tourism is being funded at less than at the 1988 budget.

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