It’s a new fundraiser I’m starting, right after I get things up and running with Bowling For Bowleggedness. But seriously, that’s what county lodging taxes do, among other things: every time someone stays in a hotel (usually someone from outside the region), a county gets money to invest in arts, tourism and other activities (in King County, that’s many, many, many other activities potentially).
So, it’s interesting that Kitsap County is discussing how these funds will be used:
In previous years, the county automatically gave 50 percent of its lodging tax revenues to the Kitsap Peninsula Visitor and Convention Bureau, while the Admiral Theatre in Bremerton has received between $30,000 and $40,000 every year since 1997…With annual lodging tax revenues generating $200,000, little was left for distribution among tourism-based organizations, such as chambers of commerce or arts-focused groups that help market Kitsap. This year revenues, are predicted to be around $280,000. That money comes from a 2 percent tax that is added to the existing 8.6 percent sales tax for hotel stays. After money is set aside to cover debt service, this year’s model will set aside 75 percent of the revenues for tourism-based organizations. The remaining 25 percent will be for performing and cultural arts-based organizations.
I don’t pretend to know enough about the implications of all this to say whether it’s a good or a bad idea (I’m sure the Kitsap Peninsula Visitor and Convention Bureau and the Admiral Theatre do great work), but it is nice to see the Board of Commissioners thinking strategically about how to leverage tourism and arts & culture investments for economic development purposes.