CHEYENNE – Budget cuts will mean less marketing and advertising to attract visitors to Wyoming.
The Wyoming Office of Tourism cut about $2 million from its 2017-18 budget as a result of massive cuts across state agencies.
The bulk of that money, almost $1.4 million, was designated for advertising.
That cut will mean a smaller summer advertising campaign and a greatly reduced or eliminated winter advertising campaign.
“This is a big cut for us,” said Wyoming Tourism Director Diane Shober.
The most recent cuts are on top of others faced by state agencies over the last few years. They also come just after Wyoming had a record number of visitors – 10.5 million – in 2015.
But with less money to spend on advertising, there’s a possibility that fewer people will be inspired to visit Wyoming.
“That’s how we actually reach consumers and potential visitors,” Shober said. “Anytime you reduce that and reduce that footprint, you’re diminishing the ability to reach potential visitors to come to Wyoming.”
According to data in the tourism office’s 2015 annual report, for every $1 the tourism office spent in advertising that year, visitors spent $202.
An estimated $47.7 million was generated in taxes attributed to the tourism office’s advertising, for a return on investment there of $8.30 per dollar of advertising.
In addition, the tourism office just launched its “That’s WY” media campaign earlier this year, but those budget cuts will reduce the full effect of the campaign.
If cuts to advertising result in a decreased visitor count, it likely won’t be felt for a couple years. That’s because tourism advertising can sometimes take a year or two to show results.
For example, if a family encounters a “That’s WY” ad this year that inspires them to visit, they may not actually plan a trip until the next year, particularly if they already have a vacation planned for the current year.
Advertising money isn’t the only thing affected by the tourism cuts. Other programs include:
A $380,000 cut over the state’s two-year budget cycle to the “Team Wyoming” professional cowboy marketing program. The program sponsors rodeo competitors and has been copied by other states.
A $160,000 cut to the college cowboy marketing program. That program provides scholarship money to the seven community colleges (including Laramie County Community College) with rodeo programs and the University of Wyoming’s rodeo program.
An $80,000 cut over the biennium to the public relations budget. That will result in the elimination of one “media mission” annually to a key market – an event that allows representatives to meet with journalists and others to talk about Wyoming and tourism.