Missouri Hospitality Industry: Cutting Tourism Marketing Means Cutting Jobs

A plan to cut Missouri's tourism marketing budget by $7 million would force the state's hotels to lay off an estimated 2,500 workers, according to the Missouri Hotel Lodging Association, which announced its projection last month in response to a proposal from the Missouri Department of Economic Development that would cut by 35 percent the budget of its tourism division.

"The proposal by the [Department of Economic Development] is tantamount to placing a lesser value on tourism, an industry that has significantly propped up the state's economy during these lean times," Missouri Hotel Lodging Association Executive Director Ramona Mormann said in a statement.

The association said it based its job-loss projections on a formula showing a return of $48.13 for every dollar Missouri spends to advertise itself as a tourism destination. The Missouri Division of Tourism, however, was unable to confirm that formula, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"We're not exactly sure where the numbers come from," Missouri Division of Tourism Communications Director Sarah Luebbert told the paper. "But whether it's 2,500 or 25 it's still terrible and it's not something we want to see happen."

The Department of Economic Development has defended its budget-cut plans, citing the need to rein in spending during the economic downturn.

"The state government is a lot like Missouri's families," Department of Economic Development spokesperson John Fougere told the Post-Dispatch. "We have to economize and cut some of the things we need and like."