Regional Tourism Bureau Funding Hit Hard by State Budget Cuts
Local convention and visitors bureaus are looking for ways to cope with a $9 million cut to the Kentucky's regional marketing fund.
The state's new two year spending plan moved those funds into the general budget. In response, the Kentucky Tourism Department decided last week against allocating matching fund grants to Kentucky’s nine regional bureaus for the upcoming fiscal year.
Murray Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Erin Carrico says the cuts are a big sucker punch for the regional offices who survive only on state funding. However the western regional office, the Kentucky Western Waterlands, should be able to continue to operate under an abbreviated budget from another funding source.
“Our regional tourism office here has another piece of funding aside from state funding," said Carrico. "They also receive membership, you can belong to membership as a restaurant, attraction, or hotel.
"So as far as our regional tourism office is considered, it should play out a bit differently. For the ones across the other sides of the state, the other eight, I’m not sure what they’re going to do at this point because they don’t have an actual tourism office with membership.”
Carrico says the KWW regional tourism office should be able to continue maintaining tourism promotion operations, just under an abbreviated budget. However, it will mean drastic cuts in regional marketing fund allocation to individual CVBs throughout the 15 counties it serves.
"The monies that they are allocated through the matching funds program are actually a significant amount, so it will alter what goals we had in place," said Carrico. "The main goals are obviously to produce a large vacation guide that includes all of us in the region: both lakes, LBL, all of the counties. The second goal is to maintain a website to help you get to all of this information. So they might have to end up going through all of those goals to see what can be trimmed down. So there are changes coming."
Carrico says the Kentucky Western Waterlands Board of Directors plans to meet Wednesday to discuss whether there needs to be a change of marketing strategy before the start of the fiscal year.