From Jaffrey to Pittsburg, New Hampshire’s tourism industry is an important driver of the economies of our local communities.
We know that New Hampshire’s tourism industry employs more than 60,000 Granite Staters. Indeed, tourism is the second largest industry in our economy, generating over $5 billion in economic activity annually. A basic rule of thumb (and arguing point!) is that every $1 spent on tourism promotion generates more than $8 in revenue. Some would argue, as did a recent article in Forbes, that tourism drives even more money into our state – what about those second homes that are purchased by those who visit a few times, love New Hampshire and decide to invest in a vacation home? Or decide to retire here? Or decide to live here and raise their family because of our quality of life?
The trick is to reach out to those considering an adventurous vacation or a quick getaway to renew their relationships and their energies — to get them to choose New Hampshire. And that is done, in significant part, by our state Department of Travel and Tourism, and the marketing monies with which they support our local chambers and other New Hampshire marketing entities.
As an owner, with my husband, of a country inn in Crawford Notch, I know firsthand the benefit of promoting our state’s tourism economy. People come back season after season, year after year, for the quiet beauty of nature that surrounds us and the activities that nature provides. They explore the many bounties of our mountains and lakes while also enjoying our restaurants, shops and attractions.
A few years ago, the legislature made the decision to make a small increase in the rooms and meals tax in order to dedicate a portion of that money to increasing the promotion of our state. The payoff has been better than we expected, with continued growth in the tourism sector helping communities across the state.
Gov. Maggie Hassan’s budget called for about $9.4 million in funding for tourism promotion. The House budget slashed that to almost nothing. The Senate committee recently voted to put back some of that money. Yes! But not to the level proposed by the governor.
We keep talking about wanting to improve our state’s economy; that we need to find ways to increase revenues so that we can better fund essential services and yet, by underfunding a sector that clearly supports tens of thousands of jobs and returns the investment many times over, we are, yet again, being penny-wise and pound-foolish.
I can’t see the logic, and I urge you to reach out to your state Senator and ask them to fully restore the funding for promotion of our state.
Bringing more people to experience our state’s beauty, hospitality and the adventures that await should be an easy investment to make. It always pays off.
Rep. Ed Butler, D-Hart’s Location is the representative for Carroll District 7, which includes the towns of Albany, Bartlett, Chatham, Conway, Eaton, Freedom, Hale’s Location, Hart’s Location, Jackson, Madison and Tamworth.