The Pierce County Council this afternoon approved new charges for hotel rooms that will generate more than a million dollars annually for tourism promotion.
The cost of a room in much of the county will rise between 50 cents and $1.50 a night, depending on where you’re staying. The new charges will take effect April 1.
A group of hotel owners requested the charges as part of a plan to create a “tourism promotion area.” The area includes unincorporated Pierce County and the cities of Tacoma, DuPont, Fife, Gig Harbor, Lakewood, Sumner and Puyallup.
The charges will apply to hotels in those areas and will vary from 50 cents a night per room in the county to $1.50 in Tacoma.
They are expected to generate about $1.3 million annually for tourism promotion. The money will be used to market convention and trade shows, to recruit sports events to the area, to market Pierce County to the travel industry and for general tourism promotion.
Though a specific plan for the money still must be developed, one of the primary beneficiaries will be the Tacoma Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Tammy Blount, president of the visitors bureau, said the organization plans to expand its sales force to bring more conventions and groups to the area. It also may upgrade its web site.
Mike Gommi, general manager of the Courtyard by Marriott in Tacoma, said the money will benefit local businesses and taxpayers. Many businesses benefit from tourism, and tourists pay taxes that benefit local residents, he said.
Tourism promotion areas are authorized under state law. Such areas must have the support of lodging facilities that will pay more than 60 percent of the new charges. The local hotel group has met that threshold.
Spokane County, Clark County, the Tri-Cities and the City of Yakima already have tourism promotion areas.
Local hotel owners say they need a tourism promotion area to compete for tourist dollars. They say tourism generates more than 11,000 jobs and $20.3 million in tax revenue for Pierce County.
The council voted unanimously to approve the tourism promotion area.
“This is the beginning of some really good things for the promotion of our community,” Chairman Roger Bush, R-Graham, said after the vote.