WLA Legislative Call to Action: Help Us Ensure Lodging Tax Revenues are Invested in Driving Tourism
(April 1, 2013) Lodging tax revenues are being threatened again this legislative session — and Washington Lodging Association is calling on its membership and the industry to help ensure that these taxes are used as they were originally intended — to fund marketing that stimulates tourism in our state.
The tourism industry is the fourth-largest sector in Washington’s economy, yet we are one of the only states in the country without a statewide tourism marketing effort. This absence of a statewide initiative makes it crucial that we invest lodging tax revenues as intended in marketing local destinations to help drive travel and tourism across the state. Tourism is too important an economic engine to compromise by diverting lodging tax revenues to other purposes
WLA OPPOSES ESHB 1253
The Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee that is now considering ESHB 1253, which if passed will put into law the most egregious raid on lodging tax revenues to date. ESHB 1253 specifically authorizes the legislature to continue expanding the use of lodging tax revenues and designates lodging tax revenues for:
- operating special events and festivals
- attracting local travelers
- operations and capital expenditures of tourism-related facilities owned or operated by public entities and non-profits
- increasing the number of local travelers
- increasing spending by local travelers on meals, admissions, fees, souvenirs, tours and gifts
This legislation would allow lodging tax revenues to continue to be diverted away from marketing local destinations to out-of-town travelers. The current diversions, which were made possible in 2008, are set to sunset in July 2013. If allowed to pass, ESHB 1253 will extend the diversions indefinitely and continue to undermine local destination marketing. In the last legislative session, WLA’s grassroots action stopped every attempt to remove the sunset clause, and WLA is working this session to ensure that the diversions are allowed to expire.
Ask your Senator to OPPOSE on ESHB 1253 and if your senator is listed below, please ask him or her to VOTE NO on the bill in committee. Here are some reasons why your Senator should oppose ESHB 1253:
► It is vital to support the originally intended and legislatively mandated uses of local lodging tax assessments for tourism marketing activities that result in increased tourism spending—and increased state and local tax receipt revenues—from travel and visitor spending.
► If these funds are redirected or the current legislatively expanded uses of lodging tax are extended, there will be less to invest in destination marketing and visitor spending will decline.
► Washington is the only state in the country without a statewide tourism marketing effort, so it is more important than ever to invest lodging tax revenues for their intended purpose: destination marketing that stimulates travel and visitor spending.
► Local lodging tax and tourism promotion area statutes should not be changed to permit local municipalities to use the funds for non-tourism related purposes.
YOUR CALL WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
Please call the Legislative Hotline now at 1-800-562-6000 and leave a message about both of these bills for your Senator. Your call will take only minutes, but the result could make the difference in protecting lodging tax revenues for marketing and stimulating tourism in your region and in our state! When you've made your call, please let us know by email or calling toll-free, 877-906-1001.
Contacting the Senators listed below is particularly important as they sit on the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee.
Braun, John (R) Committee Chair, Dist. 20, (360) 786-7638 - All of Lewis County and part of south Thurston County.
Baumgartner, Michael (R) Dist. 6, (360) 786-7610 - Parts of Spokane, Airway Heights, Nine Mile Falls, Whitworth, and portions of Spokane County including Moran Prairie, Fairwood, Country Homes, Deer Park and the northern portion of the West Plains.
Smith, John (R) Vice Chair, Dist. 7, (360) 786-7612 - Pend Oreille, Stevens, Ferry, Lincoln and parts of Okanogan and Spokane Counties.
Holmquist Newbry, Janéa (R) Dist. 13, (360) 786-7624 - Most of Grant, all of Kittitas and part of Yakima Counties.
Shin, Paull (D) Dist. 21, (360) 786-7640 - Parts of Snohomish County, including Edmonds, Mukilteo and portions of Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.
Schlicher, Nathan (D) Dist. 26, (360) 786-7650 - Parts of Pierce and Kitsap Counties.
Chase, Maralyn (D) Dist. 32, (360) 786-7662 - Shoreline, Edmonds, Woodway, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park and unincorporated areas of King and Snohomish Counties.