DRIVING THROUGH THE Chicago area last month, I saw half a dozen billboards advertising “Pure Michigan,” with a picture of a guy kayaking towards a rock spire sticking out of what I guess is either Lake Michigan or Lake Huron. It’s an impressive shot, and I’ll admit it shifted my impression of a state most often associated with Detroit’s urban decay.
Here in Texas, we get Louisiana’s and Mississippi’s Gulf Coast casinos pushed on us. The state of Montana has a saturating billboard presence in the Northwest and is equally aggressive online, including ad deals they’ve run in the past with us at Matador.
The state of Washington is not in the same category when it comes to the marketing push. This month, they became the first state in the country to completely close down their tourism office, according to a story in the NYT.
Most U.S. states are stuck with pretty serious budget shortfalls, and each is dealing in its own way. Faced with having to make cuts somewhere, Washington’s legislators chose tourism promotion. They’re in the minority, though — “27 of 47 states…either maintained or increased their tourism spending in the past year.” (NYT)
It’ll probably be a long time before the effects of this move on the state economy can be accurately measured. Till then, I won’t expect to see Mt. Rainier on any billboards around here.
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