GUEST COLUMN: Tourism and Destination Marketing: Smart Investments for Immediate Returns

May 4, 2012

Michael D. Gehrisch is president & CEO of Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI), the world’s largest and most reliable resource for official destination marketing organizations (DMOs).

As municipalities struggle with lagging revenues, budget deficits and ongoing demands to provide citizens vital services, destination marketing and tourism investment may be perceived as frivolous. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As its community’s primary tourism marketing body, a destination marketing organization (also called a DMO or sometimes called a convention and visitors bureau), masterminds the marketing of its locale to business and leisure travelers. Through its focus on tourism marketing, sales and servicing, and the resulting dollars brought in by those efforts, DMOs play a significant role in the long-term economic development of its destination.

At the end of the day, DMOs are investment accounts for communities - not a cost to communities – and their efforts deliver real dividends to local governments, businesses and residents. Destination marketing efforts don’t compete with public service programs; they actually bring new revenue into local areas to help pay for them.

Think about it this way – every new traveler that the DMO attracts to your city spends money in local businesses including hotels, restaurants, shops and attractions and becomes a temporary tax payer contributing to the local tax base.

New visitors pump cash into local businesses and public coffers, enhance the lifestyle of residents, and importantly in this economy, create jobs. In fact, the job creation from the travel and tourism industry continues to be one of the few bright spots in U.S. employment figures.

Tourism marketing is one of the smartest, most efficient and immediate returns for generating new community revenues. Both the positive impacts of marketing and the negative effects of eliminating marketing are well-documented.

When Colorado cut tourism investment to zero, its share of U.S. travel plummeted 30% within two years, creating a revenue loss of more than $2 billion annually.

On the flip side, when the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation invested $4 million in its “With Love” tourism marketing campaign, it generated $432 million in visitor spending , $24 million in new state tax revenue, $22 million in tax revenue to local governments, and over 7,000 new jobs. Every $1 spent on advertising for the With Love campaign generates $100 in direct visitor spending for Philadelphia—plus $11 in state and local taxes. (Tourism Economics, Longwoods International)

The passion that destination marketing professionals bring to their communities and the power of their marketing and sales efforts are now being realized as real revenue generators. Community leaders looking for solutions to generate new spending, revenues and jobs for their cities are wise to support and even further invest in marketing their destinations to attract visitors.

Learn more at the Destination Marketing Association International.

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