Production of new ads for Newfoundland and Labrador's award-winning tourism campaign could halt, or the number on the air could dwindle, after Tuesday's provincial budget.
Tourism Minister Terry French says his department will now look at the potential impacts of the $4-million reduction, which amounts to 30 per cent of the province’s tourism marketing budget.
"We’re very fortunate in that we have a great marketing team here in government, we have a great agency of record who have been able to punch above their weight for quite some time," French told CBC News.
"So they’ll take this money now, and see the best way we can get the best bang for our buck."
The Find Yourself campaign, created by Target Marketing of St. John’s, has won at least 183 awards since its launch in 2006.
The province’s tourism industry recently broke the $1-billion-a-year threshold. According to French, the number of visitors jumped 10 per cent in 2012, and spending rose eight per cent.
"We’ve had some very significant climbs," French noted.
Given that recent success, is a big cut to marketing the province as a tourism destination penny-wise and pound-foolish?
"You’re always concerned about that, but we had a fiscal reality that we had to face," French said.
"We’re hoping we’ll ride out a tough year maybe, and get back on track in years to come."
16 television 'chapters' created to date
French says the province has 16 television ads from the Find Yourself campaign "in the can." The two most recent spots debuted in January. Older "chapters" in the series remain in rotation.
He says $94 million has been spent on the campaign since its launch seven years ago.
"We have a fair bit invested in the current crop we have," French said. "Our brand is very strong, it’s very well recognized."
'Our brand is very strong, it’s very well recognized.' —Tourism Minister Terry French
But that brand may soon include no new ads, or fewer on the air and in print. Those decisions are pending, according to the minister.
"Maybe we’ll just do media buys next year. Maybe we’ll create new ads. Maybe we won’t."
Tourism officials could also look at concentrating on certain markets over others, he says.
The cuts won’t impact the months leading up to the 2013 summer season. Those spots were booked and paid for as part of last year’s marketing budget, according to the minister.
French says the province still aims to make tourism a $1.6-billion industry by 2020.