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State lags in laying out the bucks

Oregon is near the bottom among the states in the amount of money it spends to promote tourism, which is widely seen as one of the state's leading industries. Tourists spent $5.5 billion in the state in 1999.

The Beaver State's $3.06 million tourism and promotion budget in 2001 Ñ the last year for which state-by-state comparisons are available ÑÊranked 46th. That was less than one-half of 1 percent of the $630 million that all 50 states spent in total on tourism and promotion. Only North Dakota, Rhode Island, Nebraska and Delaware spent less.

At the other end of the scale, Hawaii's huge $71 million budget in 2001 effectively left all of the other states in the dust. Illinois stepped up with $54.5 million, Pennsylvania $39.6 million, and Florida and Texas $30 million-plus each.

Even Wyoming, whose total population numbers about 500,000, and Montana, with 750,000 residents, promote tourism with budgets of almost $7 million each.

Among Oregon's neighbors, Washington spent $3.9 million; Idaho, $5.2 million; Utah, $7 million; Colorado, $7.9 million; Nevada, $11.8 million; and California, $17.6 million.

Ñ Jeanie Senior