Tourism Promotion Area tax nearly a reality

October 5th, 2012 by Ken

It’s soon going to get more expensive to stay at any of the 20 hotels and motels in the greater Olympia area. A tourism promotion area tax is headed for approval to the Thurston County Commissioners which will add $2 tax on each of the Thurston County hotel and motel’s 1800 beds.

Motels and hotels encompassing at least 60 percent of all the beds have agreed to sign on the line to implement the new tax. That was a requirement. The idea had been held up by some Lacey area motels which felt the money raised would be spent to promote Olympia and leave them hanging. Those concerns have apparently been put to rest.

The new bed tax is expected to raise more than $700,000 which will go to the Thurston County Visitor and Convention Bureau. Plans put forth by the VCB call for the hiring of up to four new staff members, increasing the salaries for existing staff, and spending as much as $100,000 to promote Thurston County as a good place to visit.

An advisory group will be formed to help the VCB spend the money. Members of the advisory group will be appointed by the Thurston County Commissioners with all of the members coming from the hotel motel industry. Two spaces have been allocated to Olympia, two to Tumwater, two to Lacey and one to Yelm.

Creation of a Tourism Promotion Area is still in the process of being formed. A petition signed by 60 percent of the affected hotels and motels is currently being formulated. It will be sent to the county commissioners who will have 30 days to hold a public hearing. Following that, the four local jurisdictions will enter in the interlocal agreement.

The Department of Revenue will be notified and will begin collecting the additional tax. Those funds should be flowing into the VCB within about 90 days.

Posted in Business, Government, The Real News

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