Skift Take

The most visited states such as Florida, California, and New York still have the largest budgets but some of the states seeing their budgets receive the highest percent increases aren't iconic American destinations.

Several U.S. state tourism offices had bigger budgets than they’d ever had during the past fiscal year and the top 10 states with the highest budgets accounted for 55% of the total budget for all state tourism offices.

Tourism budgets have gradually bounced back to or exceeded pre-Recession funding levels and the average tourism budget amount hit a new record high in fiscal year 2015 at $18.1 million, according to data from the U.S. Travel Association.

Even more striking are the states like Nebraska and Missouri that saw some of the largest year-over-year increases to their tourism budgets. Though these states generally aren’t portrayed as bucket list destinations they’re still visited by tens of millions of people each year who spend billions of dollars.

Missouri received a 46.3% increase to its tourism funding from its actual spending budget in fiscal year 2014, going from $12.9 million to $18.8 million for fiscal year 2015. Nebraska’s increase was also 46.3% while Alabama’s was 22% and Kansas’ was 18.4%, for example.

Florida, however, had the largest overall increase, receiving about $15 million more in fiscal year 2015 ($84 million) than the year before and had the highest budget of any state, switching places with Hawaii which got $82 million during the past fiscal year. Budgets like Washington State’s ($600,000) were at the lower end of the spectrum and the overall increase for U.S. tourism budgets was 4.9% year-over-year and totaled more than $850 million.

Of the 48 states reporting data to U.S. Travel, 11 had year-over-year decreases in funding ranging from Alaska’s 1% to Massachusetts’ 16%. Hawaii, New Jersey, Ohio, and Delaware’s budgets showed no change.

The Top 10 States With Highest Tourism Budgets for Fiscal Year 2014-2015

State Actual Spending FY 2013-2014 Provisional Budget FY 2014-2015 % Change
Florida $69,487,006 $84,559,826 21.70%
Hawaii $82,000,000 $82,000,000 0.00%
California $64,469,786 $62,417,470 -3.20%
Illinois $53,288,293 $59,782,788 12.20%
Texas $43,361,910 $45,932,430 5.90%
New York $30,709,688 $37,256,498 21.30%
Michigan $32,306,752 $32,920,000 1.90%
Arizona $23,286,654 $25,937,694 11.40%
Virginia $18,609,264 $20,756,965 11.50%
Missouri $12,918,305 $18,898,625 46.30%

History of Average State Tourism Budgets

Fiscal Year Average Budget
2001-2002 $13.2 M
2002-2003 $12 M
2003-2004 $11.6 M
2004-2005 $12.4 M
2005-2006 $13.3 M
2006-2007 $14.4 M
2007-2008 $16.9 M
2008-2009 $14.9 M
2009-2010 $13.3 M
2010-2011 $13.7 M
2011-2012 $14.2 M
2012-2013 $14.9 M
2013-2014 $17.3 M
2014-2015 (provisional) $18.1 M

Source: U.S. Travel Association


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Tags: california, florida, government, missouri, money, new york state, skiftstats, tourism

Photo credit: Florida had the highest state tourism budget for fiscal year 2014-2015. Pictured here are the Florida Keys. Krug6 / Flickr

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