The Newfoundland and Labrador government is allotting $2 million for tourism marketing for each of the next two years, to bring it back to its original amount that was slashed in last year's budget.

In Budget 2013, $4 million was cut from the tourism department, amounting to 30 per cent of the province's tourism marketing budget.

That money was put back into Budget 2014 on Thursday, with a plan to meet the $4 million by 2015-2016.

Tourism Minister Terry French said the initial cutback was about tough financial decisions.

"The reality of it is that last year, and this year as well, you know, we were facing some difficult times financially," he said. 

'Eight per cent of the jobs now in the province are tourism-driven. So it's a significant industry, and one we [have] to pay a lot of attention to.'- Tourism Minister Terry French

"We had to find money to minimize our debt... But I think everybody in the industry had confidence that, at some point, this money would be put back in."

French said the province has seen huge successes with its tourism marketing.

"Our numbers are up 20 per cent, spending is up 30 per cent from 2009 to 2013," he said.

"Eight per cent of the jobs now in the province are tourism-driven. So it's a significant industry, and one we [have] to pay a lot of attention to, hence the increase in tourism marketing."

French said the competition is stiff, noting that Nova Scotia is developing a big marketing plan, and that the United States is putting money into some of the same markets as Newfoundland and Labrador.

"We have to keep pace," he said. "It's a significant cornerstone of our economy."

Signature ads

French said there are many different facets to the department's marketing strategy.

"We all think about marketing of course as our beautiful TV ads that we have. And you know, everybody's trying to copy us throughout the country... but there's a lot more to marketing than that," he said, noting that the province's online hits have gone up by as much as 50 per cent.

Those signature television ads, which are part of the Find Yourself campaign, were created by Target Marketing of St. John’s. The campaign has been highly successful, winning at least 183 awards since its launch in 2006.

French also talked about the inventive marketing initiatives.

"Whoever thought a goat on a horse would get half a million hits?" he joked, speaking about the infamous ad that has garnered more than 360,000 hits.