Nevada is home to many industries ranging from agriculture and ranching to the manufacture of lawn equipment and titanium products. In the 1930s Nevada was known as much for the divorce industry as it was for mining. But today, Nevada’s best known industry is tourism. And tourism is under fire at the Carson City capital building in Nevada.
As with most states, Nevada’s balanced budget requirement means that all the dollars and cents must equal out. So when Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons settled in to prepare the 2009 budget, declining revenue and economic downward trending made it necessary to decrease allotments for a variety of state funded agencies. Education and health services have received the most media attention. But in the process of allotting the evaporating funds, the Tourism Commission and the Economic Development Commission have also taken critical budget hits.
The primary recommendation is to merge the two departments which would generate an expected savings of 58%. Staff would be reduced from 28 to 18 and the vacant Nevada tourism director position would remain not filled. In addition, funding would potentially be cut to current projects that support the Nevada Ballet Theatre, the Neon Museum, and the Atomic Testing Museum.
Some of the budget cuts currently under consideration could actually result in the unintentional decrease of part of the natural revenue stream. Because of staffing reductions and expense controls, the Tourism Commission’s Nevada magazine, would most likely become a lighter offering. Advertisers who routinely use the magazine to promote their Las Vegas and Nevada events may be inclined to try another media format. and once they do, many may not return.
Unless the other 49 states once again make divorce difficult to obtain, Nevada needs to ensure that tourism dollars are being spent in the best way possible to woo vacationers to stay and play the Nevada way.