Chamber Members Say Tourism Budget Cuts Could Devastate Industry

Members of the coast chamber and lawmakers greeted each other at the capitol with smiles, hugs and laughs. But no one's smiling about the proposal to cut tourism's budget by more than 50 percent. Less money would mean fewer ads selling the Mississippi gulf coast.

"It's not going to devastate the industry, we're not going to not have anybody come, but we'll certainly run the risk of having less people, less revenue and less growth in our whole tourism industry," said Bob Lutz of the Harrison County Tourism Commission.

Gulfport Lawmaker, Rep. Frances Fredericks, said tourism is a billion dollar industry for the state.

"People wonder how we make money off those people, they spend money and the sales tax is what's sent back to the state for the general fund and we just cannot stand to be without those dollars right now," Rep. Fredericks said.

Tourism officials fear a budget cut will result in fewer dollars to go toward advertising.

"Tourism is the type of thing that when people decide where they're going on vacation or take a weekend trip, what's in front of their mind is what they respond to and if we're not there, somebody else's advertisement is going to attract their attention and they're more likely to go there," commented Bob Lutz.