Major cuts to health care and New York's prison system have dominated the headlines in the North Country since the January release of Governor David Paterson's 2010-11 Executive Budget.
But one area official says cuts to tourism and marketing programs should not be overshadowed by setbacks elsewhere.
Ron Ofner is executive director of the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council. He said Paterson's budget eliminates the "I Love New York" Tourism Matching Funds program, which provided Adirondack counties with close to $480,000 in 2009.
And although the cuts to tourism programs don't amount to much, Ofner says the impact those programs have is immeasurable.
"We're looking at $1.2 billion in visitor spending," he said. "We're looking at close to $150 million in local and state sales tax revenue as a result of that visitor spending."
He said cutting programs aimed at bolstering tourism - especially when the return is so high - is dangerous fiscal policy in a time when the state is staring down a massive deficit.
According to data provided by Ofner's office, tourism jobs account for up to 40 percent of employment in some Adirondack communities.
"And we're also looking at tourism employment in the Adirondack region of over 20,000 jobs," he said. "That's from the census, and that's looking at jobs, what they consider the tourism industry. So it's obviously lodging and campgrounds, restaurants. I believe they even include gas stations in that mix."
And it's not just employment the tourism industry provides. Ofner points to statistics compiled by the SUNY Plattsburgh Technical Assistance Center that shows every dollar spent on marketing results in 86 dollars spent by tourists.
In 2008, visitors to the Adirondacks spent $1.2 billion. That, Ofner says, generated $152 million in state and local sales tax revenue.
Also on the chopping block is the Beekmantown Welcome Center. Ofner says the center plays an important role in promoting the park, especially with first-time visitors from Canada.
"What we're finding is that the majority of visitors coming down from Canada are first-time visitors," he said. "A lot of people are just popping down for the day, y'know, looking for things to do. They stop in our area and that's where they learn about the Plattsburgh Beach and the shopping opportunities in Plattsburgh or what's available in the Lake George or Lake Placid area."
He adds that closing the center would take away opportunities for the tourism council when it comes to attracting potential visitors.
"Without that center being open, people will