Wyoming Liberty Group
Wyoming’s Tourism Office Spends Big on Employee Tourism
The small and often overlooked Wyoming Office of Tourism (WOT) is a branch of state government with a lot of money to spend – on themselves. With 26 employees, the department is charged with promoting “the long-term development and marketing of a destination focusing on tourism marketing and services,” according to a department flier. In pursuit of this mission, the department spent an average of $11,976 per employee on travel expenses during the 2011-2012 Wyoming biennium.
Who knew WOT spent money on tourism for themselves?
How is this travel extravaganza justified? Staff must be “trained” you know — and let’s not forget participation in trade shows and expos. Employees have “trained” in Southern England and gone to trade shows in Rimini, Italy, London, Berlin, and Olso. Employees also attended the Discover America workshop in Stockholm, and sales missions to Milan and Northern England.
Across the Pacific, WOT employees traveled to sales missions in Japan, and presentations and expos in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sidney, Australia. They also managed to attend the Tauranga and Auckland Expos in New Zealand.
Even in the United States, these select employees get around, with promotional missions in Las Angeles, New York, and Las Vegas, among others.
With all these trips to far-off lands, it’s easy to see how WOT could spend so much on employee travel expenses in two years. If every travel-related expense from the 2011-2012 biennium budget request is taken into account, including in and out-of-state travel, permanently assigned vehicles, and travel reimbursement, WOT spent over $397,278 on employee travel. Divided evenly between employees, it amounts to about $15,280 per person over two years.
The 2013-2014 budget request doesn’t look much better. That request incorporates Governor Mead’s eight percent budget cut of $1.023 million, though this so-called budget cut still means total spending during the 2013-2014 biennium is still six percent higher than the total 2011-2012 biennium.
On the plus side, WOT’s biennial travel bonanza dropped by $40,000. That may sound like a lot, but it still leaves an average of about $10,440 for each employee to tour around. Not bad work if you can get it.