Missouri travel and tourism will continue to lose state funding

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Monday afternoon, Governor Eric Greitens discussed his plans for next year's budget.

Some areas, like early education and infrastructure may get a financial boost.

Higher education may have to go without. Missouri State University President Cliff Smart, reacted on social media, saying cuts will likely impact services and tuition if approved.

Another area suffering cuts is the department of tourism. Less money for visitor and convention bureaus could mean less money for local services.

"The timing is just bad and the decision was bad," said Tracy Kimberlin.

The president and CEO of the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau said budget cuts will continue to hurt travel to Missouri.

"It, to me, is cutting off their nose to spite their face. The division of tourism is one of the few revenue generating programs that the state has and they just cut it," he said.

The state withheld half or $10 million of the department of travel's budget last fiscal year.

Those same cuts are slated to continue for 2019.

Kimberlin said, "Southwest Missouri is a tourism mecca."

There's just little to no money to promote it.

"We were very fortunate here in Springfield with the opening of Wonders of Wildlife and all of the national publicity that that got. Advertising that we couldn't have purchased had we had the money," he said.

Springfield's Convention and Visitor's Bureau relies mostly on the hotel/motel tax to operate.

"Our budget has been growing at a nice clip but it's not growing at a $230,000 a year clip which is what this is likely going to cost us this year. I don't know whose decision it was to cut this but there's lots of bad decisions made in Jefferson City that's for sure," explained Kimberlin.

He is hoping the trend to cut tourism funding will change.

"Long term, hopefully we can recover and hopefully we can talk some sense into the folks in Jefferson City about the importance of funding tourism and generating revenue for the city," he said.

State lawmakers will still have to weigh in on the governor's proposed cuts.

A final decision on the state's budget will be made later this year.