Tourism is vital to Missouri's economy. The 7th District is blessed with several attractions and related industries, including the world-renowned family friendly destination, Branson. This month I had the opportunity to meet with businesses and their employees in Stone and Taney Counties who are involved in the tourism industry.
Tourism is an important job creator in our state. According to the Missouri Division of Tourism's Annual Report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, more than 279,000 Missourians were employed in tourism-related jobs, and nearly 41,000 tourism-related jobs were in the 7th District. In FY 2011, Missouri hosted more than 36 million visitors. Missouri state tax revenue generated by travelers in state was more than $627 million during FY 2011.
This tour was important because I serve as your voice in Washington. It is crucial that I understand the challenges impacting businesses in our district. Small businesses play a critical role in our economy and right now they are struggling because of Washington's bad policies. Washington makes it difficult for our nation's small business owners to have the certainty and confidence needed to expand their operations.
Throughout the tour, I listened to growing concerns over high gas prices. Rising gas prices hurt everyone, but especially those in an industry which depends on visitors' ability to afford traveling. Washington can help gas prices by supporting policies to strengthen our energy security. We need to increase use of our domestic energy supplies and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Reliance on foreign oil negatively impacts our economy and poses a serious threat to our national security. Our current domestic energy production cannot currently meet the needs of all consumers. That is why I support an "all of the above" energy policy which takes advantage of all our options and resources.
As a former small businessman, I know the best way to accomplish anything is to gather information from knowledgeable individuals like the ones I met with on the tourism tour, to inform my decision making. I support efforts to get Washington out of the way so small businesses can create jobs and expand fundamental economic opportunities. Tourism is crucial to our state and district and I am honored to represent such great people in Congress.