Hotel tax not keeping tourists away - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Hotel tax not keeping tourists away

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Tourism has been up for the last two years in Savannah, but a recent hotel tax increase could cause issues this weekend.

The hotel tax increase is part of the 10 year, $10 billion transportation plan unveiled by Governor Nathan Deal. It seems to be sitting well with tourists right now. However, on the business end, some say it's too early to tell if there's a difference.

The hotel tax went into effect July 1, 2015 but industry leaders are still comparing the difference in lost revenue and lost opportunity. Industry leaders do feel that the transportation plan is important to the state because a good road structure is important to tourism.

However, costing more to visit the state makes it harder to compete with other destinations.

"We're competing with not with other hotel within the market. We're competing with other market don't have that fee. When you start putting dollars to dollars, we become a more expensive destination for the whole state, compared to South Carolina, Alabama and Florida,” said Tourism Leadership Council President/CEO Michael Owens.

I spoke with The America Best Value Inn and they did not want to go on camera, but they tell me they've seen a 15 to 20 percent decrease in business. However, that can't be said for all hotels across Savannah.

The $5 tax increase is for Georgia hotels and motels. But, it hasn't been stopping some tourists from enjoying their Fourth of July weekend. I spoke with a few tourists in downtown Friday and they seem to think that a $5 increase is nothing to lose sleep over.

“It doesn't bother me as long as I know what it's going to and you're told ahead of time it's a five dollar extra fee. It is fine, it's helps the state. That's fine with me,” said Jodi Dubensky.

“We come from a good size city in Michigan. Our roads are terrible and I would be happy if they spent ten billion dollars on increasing our roads and getting public transportation a little better,” said Nathan Kuyte, Michigan resident.

“I don't think five dollars is a lot. Raise it more then that's probably too much. But, five dollars I can handle,” said Amity Rine, from York, SC.

You're probably wandering what impact the transportation plan would have on our area, $244 million dollars will be used for I-16/95 interchange and widening of I-16 from I-95 to I-516, which will be done in two separate projects.

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