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Missouri spending $15M in coronavirus relief funds on boosting tourism

Missouri spending $15M in coronavirus relief funds on boosting tourism
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Missouri plans to spend $15 million in federal coronavirus aid on promoting tourism in the state, Gov. Mike Parson (R) announced Thursday.

Parson called the tourism industry “a great way to support Missouri businesses” in his press briefing Thursday, adding “With all the other things going on, it’s still important people need to get out and enjoy life a little bit.”

Tourism Director Stephen Foutes said Thursday that the money the state received through the CARES Act will be earmarked for institutions that market specific sites throughout the state to help them “maintain their marketing focus” and “include messaging on safety measures that have been implemented by their attractions,” according to the Kansas City Star.

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Foutes said marketing organizations will also have the opportunity to apply to be reimbursed for the cost of safety measures like temperature checks.

The announcement comes as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — three states that saw early peaks for the virus — have imposed mandatory two-week quarantines for any visitors from 22 states.

However, Missouri Health Director Randall Williams said Thursday he feels “very comfortable telling people it’s OK” to travel across state lines as long as they take precautions such as wearing masks, washing their hands and social distancing.

“I think there are benefits to getting outdoors, to travel in that case,” he said. “And are there some risks? There probably are, but there are also some benefits. Let’s not lose sight of that.”

State Economic Director Rob Dixon called the tourism marketing a necessary boost to the state economy with more than 40 percent of Americans saying they do not plan to travel for the remainder of the year.

“This is a new normal for the world economy. It’s a new normal for our state’s economy, and we’re going to have to go about doing business with the virus around us,” he said, according to the Star.