Tourism operators in Newfoundland and Labrador say this week's provincial budget will undercut a growing industry that government itself admits has surpassed $1 billion in value.

Tuesday's budget slashed the tourism marketing budget by $4 million.

Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador chair Darlene Thomas said award-winning television ads are a big reason tourists come to the province.

"Many of our visitors, that's the comment that they do make, that [the ads] were a decision maker for them when they see the ads running across the country," said Thomas.

"You know it is disappointing — it's a 30 per cent cut."

Thomas said the cutbacks will be felt in the years to come, if new commercials stop running.

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Tourism Minister Terry French says says fewer ads may be aired, or at least no new commercials for a while. Both options are on the table. (CBC)

Tourism Minister Terry French said there will be no reduction in the number of ads until the summer. That's because they were purchased through funding in last year's budget.

David Boyd, who owns and operates the Prime Berth Museum near Twillingate, calls the cuts regressive.

"It's a sad day when the government is trying to save a few pennies, but in the meantime, are going to be losing dollars in terms of new money coming into the province to stimulate the economy," said Boyd.

"The government has to, I think, realize that they're going backwards here. This is a backwards step, and by cutting out these ads you're cutting off your nose to spite your face."

The Find Yourself campaign, created by Target Marketing of St. John’s, has won at least 183 awards since it launched in 2006.