Rep. Camillo questions tourism spending cuts

During the July meeting of the legislature’s Tourism Caucus, State Representative Fred Camillo (R-151) questioned Office of Policy and Management (OPM) Secretary Ben Barnes regarding recent cuts to the state’s tourism marketing budget.

In an effort to control a ballooning state budget deficit, Governor Malloy cut another 1% from the state’s $6.5 million tourism marketing budget, and another $1.1 million earmarked for Connecticut’s tourism districts. Additionally, another $128,000 set to be used for tourism promotion was slashed. According to Secretary Barnes, the tourism marketing budget was recently funded with $15 million but has been reduced by both legislative action and the Governor’s rescissions.

“In light of recent budget deficits and the need for our state to live within its means, I still feel that these cuts are shortsighted and will end up having a negative impact on the state’s economy,” Rep. Camillo said. “Tourism has been a proven economic driver for Connecticut’s economy and is one of the few places where our return on investment is significant.”

According to Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), 6.7 million visitors – a 12% increase from 2014 – visited Connecticut in 2015, with a majority (2.7 million) visiting during the summer and bringing in most revenue through lodging. The most popular purpose for visiting (50%) was for shopping, with entertainment (35%) and outdoor recreation (20%) coming in just behind. Once here, tourists also engaged in gaming, dining and visits to the beach.

Connecticut’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences have great potential in contributing to tourism. In 2014, cultural entertainment had a $653 million economic impact on the state, generating $59 million for local and state government, and supported more than 18,000 jobs.

The Tourism Caucus has met regularly since its establishment in early April, recently hosting the Department of Transportation (DOT) to discuss enhancing the ability of tourists to locate travel destinations in Connecticut. In addition, to better understand trends in tourism, several members of the Tourism Caucus attended a presentation by Tim Sullivan, Deputy Commissioner of the DECD, at an event on April 8th in Mystic hosted by the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce.

For more on Connecticut’s Tourism sector, visit the DECD Offices of Culture and Tourism’s website at: http://www.cultureandtourism.org/cct/site/default.asp

State Representative Fred Camillo (R-151)

State Representative Fred Camillo (R-151)

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