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Bill to Boost Ads for Hunting and Fishing Tourism Faces Gov's Opposition

AUGUSTA, Maine - The LePage administration is opposing a bill that would require the state to spend tourism promotion funds touting the state's hunting and fishing opportunities.

Maine spends millions of dollars a year on tourism promotion efforts, and those in the hunting and fishing business say they are get little, if any, benefit from that effort.

Jeff Belmore is a Maine guide from Warren. He spoke at a public hearing on the bill.

"For the amount of money that myself and my clients and I'm bringing here and spending, we're not getting anything out of that as our industry to promote," Belmore said. "If we did, my business would be better."

The LePage administration is opposing the bill. Carolann Ouellette, the director of the Office of Tourism, which directs advertising efforts, says advertising decisions are based on studies and data.

She objects to the bill, which mandates that at least a quarter of the state's nearly $10 million annual advertising budget go to promote hunting and fishing activities.

"It will permanently set an arbitrary amount to a specific segment, impeding our ability to adjust to changes in the marketplace and to continue to effectively market Maine," Ouellette said, "which could result, ultimately, in a loss of revenue to the state."