Tampa, FL … (July 1, 2019) Beginning Aug. 1, Hillsborough County will increase the tax rate on overnight stays at local hotels by one per cent, joining an elite group of Florida travel destinations that have previously been designated “high impact” tourism counties.
Only counties generating yearly hotel tax revenues of $600 million, or more, are eligible to increase taxes collected on hotel guest rooms by an additional one per cent.
In 2018, Hillsborough County reached that benchmark for the first time, reporting more than $644 million in taxable hotel revenue. Last year, tax collections rose to an even more robust level of nearly $673 million. Those record-high collections qualify Hillsborough County’s lodging industry to raise taxes from the current five per cent rate to six per cent.
Bob Morrison, executive director of the Hillsborough County Hotel & Motel Association (HCHMA), urged Hillsborough County Commissioners to support the proposed increase based on the backing of the HCHMA Board of Directors. “Our board unanimously supports such an increase, with at least one condition – a minimum of 33 per cent of every dollar collected should be designated for destination marketing,” Morrison recommended. “This condition is designed to grow the number of visitors who contribute to our community’s well-being, building a recession-proof firewall for the tough times while never asking our citizens to ever contribute a dime toward that firewall, unless they stay in a hotel room.”
County Commissioners approved the single cent tax increase on June 6. The new rates take effect Aug. 1 and are expected to increase hotel tax collections by $6.4 million annually.
Ron McAnaugh, president of HCHMA and General Manager of the Marriott Water Street Tampa Hotel, noted the tax increase may help the local economy offset any impact from recent budget cuts to Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism marketing organization. The public-private agency faced financial uncertainty when state officials proposed curtailing funds effective Oct. 1, 2019. Instead, additional dollars were budgeted to keep the agency afloat through June 30, 2020 but at a lower level of funding that has already led to staff layoffs and other cutbacks.
“Through the various public and private sector partnerships coordinated by Visit Florida, we have been able to support worldwide marketing efforts that bring growing numbers of visitors to our county. With Visit Florida’s resources significantly reduced, we need to boost our marketing budget at the local level,” McAnaugh said. “We have new hotels opening, under construction and planned throughout the county. We must maintain a high profile so that our existing and new hotels, as well as the local economy, will continue to benefit from visitor spending.”
Visit Tampa Bay’s visitor spending analysis estimates that restaurants, retail and transportation businesses are the big winners when guests come to Tampa / Hillsborough County. More than 65 cents out of every dollar of visitor expenditures go to those businesses, and their associated jobs, throughout the community, not to local hotels.
Counties currently charging six percent on hotel overnight stays include the following: Broward, Duval, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Miami-Dade and Volusia.
The Hillsborough County Hotel & Motel Association is a membership-based organization that represents leading hotels, motels and resorts. First organized in 1937, HCHMA’s membership include owners and managers of hotels, motels and resorts, attractions and venues that are beneficiaries of the Tourist Development Tax allocated within Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties and businesses that provide products and services to the hospitality industry. For more information, go to hotelsintampabay.com.