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Obama, tourism and tax money

Obama: Government-sponsored tourism ads must show results  Aug 04, 2008

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama says he's willing to consider a publicly subsidized national advertising campaign aimed at luring more overseas tourists to the United States - but only if it can demonstrate results.

"What I'd want to find out is whether or not we can quantify the benefits in some meaningful way," Obama told the Orlando Sentinel. The U.S. senator from Illinois made the comments during a brief interview with the Sentinel following a rally at Freedom High School on Friday evening.

It's a key issue for the nation's tourism industry, which is lobbying Congress to approve an advertising campaign that would be funded in part by a taxpayer loan and a new fee on many overseas travelers to the U.S. The presumed Republican presidential nominee John McCain has expressed some skepticism about the concept.

"I'm a big believer in doing what works," Obama said when asked if the federal government should have a role in paying for tourism advertising. "If we're advertising and studies show that it's not making any difference, then why waste the money? If we're advertising and it's bringing in more revenue than if we weren't advertising, then we should do it."

Quantifying the results of any ads is vital, he said. "Because, look, money's tight right now. And there are a lot of potential uses for that money. And I think people know where South Beach is."

Obama: Government-sponsored tourism ads must show results

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