It looks like there won’t be an increase to the Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax in 2017.
During a meeting with business professionals discussing Colorado Springs’ strengths and weaknesses in the tourism industry, Doug Price, CEO of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the city will not include the initiative to increase Colorado Springs’ tax on car rentals and hotel stays on the April 2017 election ballot.
After numerous discussions and poll assessments, Price said that Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers decided it’s not the right time to let voters decide on the tax increase, which would boost funding for the CVB’s tourism efforts and other projects that could draw in new visitors.
“As anxious as we are to get it on the ballot, we as an industry, still have work to do to get it together and further educate people,” Price said.
The LART, was created in 1980 and is a 1 percent tax on car rentals and 2 percent on hotel rooms, primarily paid by visitors in the region–not local residents.
The push to double the tax rate to 2 percent on auto rentals and 4 percent on hotel rooms was brought forth as an avenue to provide more funding to attract tourists, who pump $1.35 billion a year into the local economy.
Two-thirds of the revenue from the LART goes to the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau for tourism promotion and has never been raised.
“There hasn’t been an increase in 36 years,” Price said.
He said the next opportunity to propose the increase will be the April 2019 ballot. He said getting enough support from City Council is a challenge.
“Six out nine City Council members are up for election [in 2017], and in order to really push for this, we need candidates backing it up,” Price said.
Results from the community assessment conducted by destination marketing association Destination NEXT included the need for more tourism promotion funding, a tourism master plan and further community education and engagement on the significance of local tourism.
We need to educate people more on LART and value of tourism, Price said.
“As much as funding is a challenge, what makes this discussion different today is that business is booming, things are good and this gives us more time to provide education and outreach.”