The Rise and Fall of Colorado Tourism

What happens when you take a successful advertising campaign and cut the budget to zero?
This is a question few of our clients would dare to ask. In 1993, however, one of them did.

That was the year Colorado became the only state to eliminate its tourism marketing function, when it cut its $12 million promotion budget to zero. As a result, Colorado’s domestic market share plunged 30% within two years, representing a loss of over $1.4 billion in tourism revenue annually. Over time, the revenue loss increased to well over $2 billion yearly.

Documenting research that spans more than 20 years, this paper provides a quintessential demonstration of the necessity and financial value of marketing. It details the state of Colorado’s roller-coaster funding ride, including the complete loss of its tourism marketing budget, and the subsequent successful fight for renewed financial support. It is a cautionary tale for financial decision-makers who, in these difficult economic times, are naturally looking at major cutbacks in all areas, including promotion.


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