Support Wyoming Business Growth. Support Travel.
Defend and strengthen our hospitality & tourism economy.
A constricted energy industry, resulting in declining state revenues and unaddressed plans for funding public education continue to put pressure on Wyoming’s General Fund revenues—currently the only funding source for the Wyoming Office of Tourism (WOT). During the past two legislative sessions alone, WOT has endured a 13.5 percent budget reduction and ranks 31st in marketing in the U.S., falling behind Montana, Utah, Colorado and South Dakota—each of which have dedicated funding sources. If we do not address funding challenges during the upcoming legislative session, Wyoming will continue to see negative impacts deepen across our travel industry and continual erosion in our ability to effectively compete for visitors among other destinations.
To tackle this budgetary issue, it’s imperative that we establish a long-term sustainable funding option for WOT. After considerable examination, a cross section of hospitality industry leaders in Wyoming reached consensus on a preferred funding model to be explored and presented to the Wyoming Legislature. Wyoming’s travel industry is proposing a one percent tax be added to all purchases within the leisure and hospitality sector (the 7000 series). By leveraging this tax, a dedicated funding source will be in place to support our state’s domestic and international marketing efforts. This will result in continued, long-term growth of Wyoming’s visitor econom—an economy that continually ranks as one of the leading generators of sales and use tax in Wyoming and is essential to communities and our workforce. Supporting this self-sustaining funding strategy is supporting Wyoming.
Why is the hospitality industry supporting this new tourism tax?
• We support this tax because a growing travel and tourism industry ensures increased revenue and a strong, vibrant future for Wyoming’s restaurants, lodging properties and related businesses that benefit from the visitor economy. This tax will allow for a stable, largely visitor-supported funding model that benefits every one of us here in Wyoming.
• In Wyoming, we know the importance of working together to get the job done. Our economy relies on the revenue generated by the hospitality and travel industry and we must work together for tourism to continue to be a strong economic engine in Wyoming. It’s imperative that we are proactive as we protect and grow Wyoming’s tourism economy.
We already have enough taxes in Wyoming. Why do we need to add another tax to specifically support the leisure and hospitality industry?
• The wonderful thing about Wyoming’s visitor economy is that it’s an export economy, which means that out-of-state visitors will pay the majority of this tax.
• This new tax will allow more money (to the tune of around $25 million – per biennium) to go back into the General Fund where it can support other statewide, critical funding needs while enabling Wyoming’s second-largest industry to operate on a self-supporting funding model.
Is this new tourism tax the same as the local lodging tax that already exists in Wyoming? How will this tax help fund marketing promotions throughout Wyoming?
• This new tourism tax will be dedicated to the marketing efforts and programming of WOT.
These dedicated funds will be spent on marketing Wyoming, which will allow the state to continue to focus on and champion the brand as we gain more consumer awareness domestically and internationally, while encouraging travelers to explore specific destinations throughout the Cowboy State.
• The tourism tax and local option lodging tax are two separate funding sources. The one percent tourism tax will be dedicated to creating and maintaining a clear and unified marketing message for Wyoming as we use comprehensive efforts to assure Wyoming remains top of mind against other destinations. The local lodging tax provides Wyoming’s communities with resources to promote their individual tourism assets to a wide audience of travelers that they would not have access to without the concerted marketing efforts of WOT.
How is this new tourism tax going to benefit my businesses? Why should I support this tax?
• This tourism tax is not a business expense and is paid directly by consumers, the majority of which are from out of state.
• As a business that employs Wyoming residents, you should support this tourism tax because it will be dedicated to marketing Wyoming as a vacation destination. By having devoted marketing dollars, we will be able to proactively bring more visitors to the state which will have a direct and positive impact on your business’s revenue.
I’m a local who pays enough in taxes. Why should I pay more to support tourism marketing when it doesn’t have a direct impact on my daily life?
• Fortunately, you won’t be paying much to support tourism marketing. Research has shown that 80 percent of this tax will be paid by out-of-state travelers. For you, it’s important to remember that this is only a one percent additional tax on purchases made in the leisure and hospitality sector, which would equate to an additional $1 for every $100 purchase within that sector.
• There is a direct and strong ROI between tourism and the amount of sales tax we collect in Wyoming. In 2016, out-of-state travelers in the Cowboy State purchased goods and services from Wyoming businesses and those purchases generated $171 million in state and local taxes. In turn, that tax revenue is used to support public infrastructure and other critical services throughout Wyoming. If not for traveler-generated tax revenues, the average household in Wyoming would have paid an additional $730 in taxes in 2016. Put simply: the visitor economy provides tax relief for Wyoming residents.
While I know that tourism is the second-largest industry in Wyoming, how important is it to my district?
• No matter where you live in the state or which district you represent, investing in tourism is investing in Wyoming. The travel, tourism and hospitality industry has a direct impact on business, citizens and job growth as it directly supports 31,700 jobs (which translates to 13 percent of Wyoming’s workforce). By investing in tourism and marketing Wyoming as a travel destination, you’ll be helping create and support Wyoming-based jobs and have a positive impact on your district’s constituents.
• For decades, the leisure and hospitality sector has consistently been the second and third largest contributor of sales and use taxes to local and state governments (in 2016, it generated $171 million in local and state tax revenues). To sum it up, the visitor economy provides tax relief directly to the citizens of Wyoming in every legislative district.
Won’t this tax add another layer of administrative complexity to doing business?
• While setting this up will take some time in the beginning, this new tax should be fairly seamless to integrate and WOT has already been working with the Wyoming Department of Revenue to determine what is entailed to implement this. The process will be simplified because the one percent tax will be added to the established business classifications.
• Proactive outreach and education will be part of this new tax collection so everyone—from leisure and hospitality businesses who will be assessing the tax to accountants—will have a firm understanding of the importance and vital necessity of this tax.
Will this new funding have any effect on how WOT is structured?
• Not at all, WOT is a state agency that will remain part of the executive branch and as such, budgets for WOT will still be submitted and approved by the Wyoming State Legislature and all funds will go through the state’s system. The only real change is the source of revenue.
• WOT values input from policymakers as we professionally market Wyoming as a destination.
Our goal is to continue to collaboratively work with the Governor and Wyoming State Legislature to allow for this new funding source, while giving money back to the General Fund as we continue to work hard for businesses, industries and residents.
What’s going to stop other industries, entities and programs in Wyoming from wanting their “piece of this pie” from this new tax?
• To be honest, nothing. But for Wyoming to have a healthy and diverse economy, it’s vital that this revenue be dedicated to the promotion of Wyoming as a destination. Plus, by removing WOT’s funding from the General Fund, there will be an additional $24 million per biennium—that was previously used to market Wyoming—that can now be reallocated to other areas that are in dire need of additional funds.