Last Modified: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 6:40 PM
One of the most puzzling aspects of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s conduct as the state’s chief executive is his seeming indifference to one of the state’s most important industries — tourism.
In spite of the fact that tourism is a $10.5 billion industry in Louisiana, the state continually raids tourism marketing dollars for special events, such as the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans, according to Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who oversees the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.
The Super Bowl event in New Orleans will be Louisiana’s time to shine for the whole world. Why make it difficult for the Office of Tourism to adequately promote the event, rather than fully funding it to take full advantage of the opportunity?
Louisiana’s state parks also need to be supported better than they are currently. Louisiana’s magnificent natural beauty invites the world to come here, as well as our state’s history, heritage and culture. We have state parks that highlight all these aspects of our state, and they have had to operate on meager budgets. Our state parks should be showcases for our state pride.
While it is commendable for Jindal to be frugal with taxpayer money, it makes no fiscal sense to damage agencies that actually make money for the people of Louisiana, and that are a key part of economic development and quality-of-life standards. A really good manager would make cuts to wasteful areas of government, not the moneymakers.
By being stingy with tourism promotion funds, Jindal could also be hurting the state on bidding on other major events, which will also need funding.
“This is a long-term need for Louisiana. We cannot lurch from event to event when money is suddenly needed and take it out of a budget, particularly tourism,” Dardenne said.
He added that it has just been over the past couple of years that the bull’s eye has been placed on the tourism budget.
“Not only does it bring in revenues, it creates jobs and has tremendous intangible impact as people from outside Louisiana examine our state,” Dardenne said.
State tourism dollars are generated by a 0.03 percent sales tax, Dardenne said. “We are really not investing as we should and taking advantage of this industry,” he said.
Instead of taking tourism promotion dollars, Dardenne said the state needs to establish some kind of ongoing funding source to pay for its commitment to special events such as the Super Bowl and Final Four.
That’s a great idea. Let’s make cuts that make fiscal sense, and that don’t hurt our economy. Or, another way to put it, don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.
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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.