Two Troubled Destinations Struggle With Cuts to Tourism Funding

Plunging room revenues in Hawaii and Nevada have these two tourism-dependent destinations facing cuts to tourism programs.

The Honolulu Advertiser reports that a shrinking budget has forced the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) to cut the funding it provides to a range of community events, from the Kaua'i Music Festival to the Honolulu Family Festival at Magic Island, by more than 20 percent. More than 100 events and projects across the state will receive a total of $1.7 million from the HTA's County Product Enrichment Program this year, down from $2.2 million in 2008. Other events include film festivals, ethnic celebrations such as Okinawan, Korean and Filipino events and the paniolo-centered Western Week in Honoka'a on the Big Island. As tourism arrivals dip, the HTA faces increased scrutiny for allocating funds to enhance the visitor experience versus spending marketing money to attract more tourists The Islands.

Meanwhile, Save Nevada Tourism, a group of concerned citizens that support the tourism efforts of the State of Nevada, are calling for immediate action to help save Nevada's support for tourism marketing and promotion. The group acknowledges that Room Tax revenues, which support the work of the Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT), are down.

According to Save Nevada Tourism, in an effort to address the State's broader economic downturn, the Governor has proposed and the Legislature is expected to consider plans to merge the NCOT with another state commission. If adopted by the Legislature, the effect of such a merger would be to remove NCOT from its dedicated allocation of Room Tax, changing it to a general fund agency and drastically reducing its budget on a more permanent basis.

The Rural Grant Program, already cut this year in Nevada, would likely face long-term elimination under a general fund scenario. The group states that that this program is the lifeblood of tourism promotion in rural Nevada. They’re appealing to Nevada citizens to contact their State Senator and Assembly Member and tell them that they support the existing structure and funding for Nevada Commission on Tourism.