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|WTIC Update from Chris Brown|
With our mission top of mind, the WTIC engaged in an extremely busy 2018 Legislative General Session. As many of you know, the WTIC along with the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association and the Wyoming Tourism Board worked diligently for more than a year to establish a dedicated and competitive funding source for Wyoming’s statewide marketing program. The 1% leisure and hospitality tax would have generated more than $17 million annually to fund and grow tourism in Wyoming and would have allowed about $25 million to be reverted back into Wyoming’s general fund during challenging economic times. Unfortunately the legislature balked at our proposal and in the eleventh hour Senate President Eli Bebout presented a statewide lodging tax for consideration. With the late presentation of the bill, the industry was not able to agree to any compromise and nothing related to alternate tourism funding was considered. During the consideration of the statewide lodging tax, the Joint Appropriations Committee cut $2 million from the Wyoming Office of Tourism biennium in an effort to encourage our compromise on the statewide lodging tax. Despite a very difficult battle, we were able to work with the legislature to reinstate the $2 million. The WTIC was active at the legislature every day of the session ensuring that the Wyoming’s visitor economy continues to flourish.
The WTIC will again be engaged in seeking an alternate funding source for Wyoming’s statewide marketing program during the interim. We will be having a joint board retreat with the WLRA and Wyoming Tourism Board next week. We will also be pursuing enabling legislation that would allow the formation of Tourism Improvement Districts for the 2019 general session. Finally, the Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee will be considering the continuation of the Film Industry Financial Incentive during this interim as well. Your association will be there to support this important legislation.
Did you know that the Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition is the leading resource all things related to the local option lodging tax? Do you need hard copies of the Lodging Tax Manual? Have you attended one of our educational lodging tax webinars? Would your lodging tax board benefit from some customized training? I travel the state each year visiting various lodging tax boards to help them work through whatever their challenges are and I would be happy to visit yours. Simply send me an email or give me a call to discuss how we can help your lodging tax board excel.
Another one of the primary goals of the WTIC is to provide you with up to the minute communication on everything related to the hospitality and tourism industry in Wyoming. Having worked in the industry ourselves for more than 20 years, we understand first hand that you do not have time to research answers to the myriad of issues that you and your staff or boards face daily. Through our monthly e-newsletter, weekly legislative updates during the legislative session and customized emails detailing any significant federal or state happenings in the tourism industry, we strive to keep you informed in a timely fashion. You can call us with any challenges that you are experiencing and expect to hear back from us immediately. If we don’t know the solution we will work with you to find it.
For more than 25 years the Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition has existed to serve the needs of Wyoming’s tourism industry. In the coming year we will continue to operate in an evolving landscape at both the state and federal level. It is a critical time to be proactively involved. I sincerely look forward to working together to protecting and promoting Wyoming’s tourism industry and I am honored and grateful to partner with you in these efforts. Thank you very much for your continued support of the WTIC. Please reach out to me directly, at any time, if I may be of assistance to you. I look forward to speaking with you at our annual meeting conference call on May 15, 2018 at 2:30 pm.