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Monument Valley, Ariz.

PHOENIX -- Arizona is falling behind other states in promoting tourism, said an industry spokeswoman.

Arizona faces heavy competition from California, Texas and Las Vegas when it comes to attracting tourism, said Kristen Jarnagin with the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association. The Golden State and Lone Star State are spending a combined $100 million dollars to show off their states while Arizona is shelling out $7 million, she said.

Jarnigan would like to see the governor boost that in the budget which is expected to be released Friday.

"Ideally we would like to have $12 million to work with. We will never be on the same level with the other states but it would help up be competitive," Jarnagin said. "Florida spends $75 million and Las Vegas $100 million to attract visitors each year. Our numbers show Arizona gets $8 in return for every dollar spent to promote the state."

Tourism pumps almost $3 billion into the state's economy each year and 200,000 jobs are directly tied to tourism.

Jarnagin said that money is especially important for smaller communities such as Bisbee and Jerome and the growing winemaking industry in Sonoita. She added that places which are well-known by Arizonans could become much bigger on a national and worldwide scale with more promotion.

Jim Cross, Reporter

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