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Industry To Discuss Alternate Tourism Funding
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Industry To Discuss Alternate Tourism Funding

For more than a year the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association, the Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition and the Wyoming Tourism Board met to discuss a long term, sustainable and competitive funding source for Wyoming’s statewide marketing program.  The Wyoming Office of Tourism is funded entirely by the state’s general fund and is susceptible to the ups and downs of the states economy and the election every two years.

The result of this collaborative effort was a 1% leisure and hospitality tax that would have been spread across many of the businesses that benefit directly from the visitor economy.  This would have raised significant revenue to competitively fund our state marketing program and would have reverted $25 million back into the state’s general fund. 

Despite positive forward momentum the initiative stalled out when Senate President Eli Bebout requested that the Joint Revenue Committee table the bill in favor of his proposal of a statewide lodging tax.  The late timing of President Bebout’s proposal did not allow enough time for the industry to find agreement and the bill never moved forward. Although the bill never went forward, the appetite for a statewide lodging tax rather than the 1% leisure and hospitality tax remains strong with some in the legislature.

There is a real need to continue these discussions and to find an alternative, sustainable funding source for the Wyoming’s statewide marketing program.  Sitting back and doing nothing is not an option.  Businesses in Wyoming’s hospitality and tourism industry rely upon a growing visitor economy.  As the education-funding deficit continues to be an area of concern for the legislature, generally funded budgets will continue to face cuts.  Wyoming already ranks 31st in the nation for marketing budgets and will continue to drop if the status quo remains.

The boards of the WLRA, WTIC and WTB will have a joint retreat on May 9 and 10 in Casper to discuss and determine the direction that we will take as we head towards the 2019 legislative general session.  Feedback from the industry remains our top priority.  If you would like more information related to our alternative tourism funding efforts, or would like to provide us with some input please contact WLRA Executive Director Chris Brown at chris@wlra.org or call (307) 634-8816 x 207

Please watch next month’s e-newsletter for an update on the outcome of the May Joint Board Retreat. 

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