The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce supports the lodging tax, a tool that provides many positive benefits to the community and works to support shared community values. The Jackson Hole News&Guide published a Guest Shot from the Chamber, titled “The Lodging Tax Works for Teton County.” Find it in its entirety below or visit the Jackson Hole News&Guide: click here. The Guest Shot outlines the theory behind the Chamber's support and uses data from the recently published JH Travel and Tourism annual report. Jackson Hole businesses, community organizations, and service groups are invited to reach out to the Chamber with questions about how the lodging tax benefits the community. Chamber representatives will also be available to attend meetings and presentations. Please contact President/CEO Anna Olson, firstname.lastname@example.org or 307.733.3316.
The Lodging Tax Works for Teton County
Tourism is the key driver of our local economy, and it supports our community’s financial sustainability through a lodging tax that we don’t pay. Residents and visitors are drawn to Jackson Hole for many reasons including our strong sense of community, robust cultural offerings and endless outdoor adventure. I invite everyone to consider the big picture: Jackson Hole relies on tourism and tourism supports the community.
The lodging tax has many more positive benefits than its opposition acknowledges. Without lodging tax revenues, our government-funded services will deteriorate, our taxes will go up and the number of visitors will continue to grow with less resources to manage their impacts.
In 2016, total lodging tax collections amounted to $6.3M. Just over $2.5M (40%) of that total went straight to town and county budgets to help offset the impacts of tourism. $3.8M (60%) was allocated to the appointed Travel and Tourism board to fund a multitude of items that improve our quality of life while being funded by visitors.
If we vote against collecting the lodging tax (in November, 2018), government services will be cut and new taxes on locals will be levied to make up the shortfall. START, Teton County Parks and Recreation, Pathways, Public Safety, Jackson Hole Historical Society, Fire/EMS and the general fund rely heavily on the Lodging Tax. Town and County would need to generate at least $2.5M to replace these services.
Eliminating a funding source paid for by our visitors is shortsighted, especially when we find ourselves in a period of reduced funding from the State of Wyoming.
Residents and visitors would also feel the impact of this loss as $1.3M would be needed to fund services and events currently paid from the Travel and Tourism Board budget. Funding provides visitor services at three downtown locations to over a half-million visitors annually. A few examples of the 31 community events funded last year include: Teton County Search & Rescue Wyoming Snow and Avalanche Workshop (WYSAW), Special Olympics Wyoming winter games, Eco-Fair, Snow King New Year’s Fireworks, SHIFT, Ultimate Towner, Jackson Hole youth soccer, hockey, lacrosse and baseball tournaments, and multiple JH Ski and Snowboard Club races. These are local investments that benefit our families, friends and neighbors.
Do we wish for these events to lose tourist-paid funding? Is our community ready to underwrite $1.3M more of these expenses?
Remember, only 36% of the Travel and Tourism Board budget goes to fund traditional destination marketing, which is entirely spent on promoting fall, winter, and spring. We have sustainable capacity during these times and businesses of all sizes can anticipate year-round productivity while maintaining dependable employment opportunities.
We need to be thankful for our Jackson Hole visitors who pay 57% of our sales tax and virtually all of the lodging tax, leaving residents with lower taxes and greater resources than the rest of the state. Let’s keep the tools that can help us manage tourism impacts and work together with our town and county elected officials to maximize sustainable and positive experiences for visitors and locals.
The Travel and Tourism Board has an open seat right now; please get involved. They meet monthly on the second Thursday of each month at Town Hall. Be an educated voter and learn the facts by reading their most recent annual report, available at: http://www.tetonwyo.org/DocumentCenter/View/4834.