Corporate Welfare and Tourism

Today the Denver Post published a story by Jason Blevins claiming that corporate welfare for the tourism industry is responsible for the growth of Colorado tourism. I sent him the following letter:

Dear Mr. Blevins,

Your “news” article is essentially a regurgitated news release from bureaucrats and a company paid by the state to promote tourism funding.

Why didn’t you report:

a) Longwoods [the “research firm” cited in the story] is paid by the state to promote (“research”) state tourism funding.

b) Longwoods has a history of exaggerating the impacts of state tourism funding.

c) This year [meaning the previous year] Colorado also had good snow and record population (drawing visits to friends and family).

No doubt state tourism funding has increased tourism to the state. But you’re hardly reporting the whole story.

Thanks, -Ari

Here I add some additional points.

* As the Mercatus Center reviews, people are moving from less-free to more-free states, which also generates visits by people contemplating a move here.

* State funding for tourism crowds out private efforts to advertise tourism. Tourist attractions are perfectly free to pay for their own advertising, and to coordinate with others for broader campaigns.

* On the moral level, it is wrong to force people to finance corporate welfare for tourism against their wishes. It’s the job of government to protect people’s rights, not maximize tax revenues or tourism.

***

RussK commented June 16, 2011 at 10:36 AM
All good points. I’d like to mention that I have never been affected–to my knowledge–by Colorado state tourism advertisement. Everything I know about the state, and the things that I’d do there, was learned from word of mouth. Sometimes I think that state advertisement for tourism is more for promoting the state to its own residents. For example, I’ve lived in Minnesota for nearly two years, and I have seen countless advertisements about vacationing in the state; that seems absurd to me, as I’m already here.