Funding Cuts Could Mean Fewer Tourists in West Texas

Kristen Lowe
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN- Funding for the state's tourism marketing is set to be cut from $30 million, to just $5 million.

Odessa Convention & Visitor's Bureau Director Linda Sweatt says overnight visitors from sports playoffs, concerts and conferences bring in a lot of money when they come into town.

"They eat in our restaurants, and shop in our malls, and buy gas. So it affects all of us," she said.

But if the cuts are made, she worries Texas won't be able to market itself as well. If it can't market, she says they'll lost some of those overnight visitors that local businesses depend on.

"If they're not coming to our community, and they don't know about not coming to our state and don't know what Texas has to offer, then it's going to affect all of us," she said.

Last year, the state spent $30 million on tourism, but ended up making $51 billion in tax revenue. Sweatt says tourism in Odessa alone raked in $25 million.

Wile many tourist spots don't directly depend on government funding, they do depend on the advertising of Texas as a whole.

"We have a large amount of visitors that are from out of town, and particularly out of state," said CAF Director Jeff Wood. "It's very important to us that they know that we're here and that this is a place they can come and visit".

"A cut to the CVB's would be fairly devastating in getting our word outside of the Permian Basin," said Petroleum Museum Director Kathy Shannon.

However, Texas has a projected $15-27 billion deficit in the next two years, and some lawmakers say the spending has to stop somewhere.