Tourism Industry Reacts to Proposed Tax Increase - WSET.com - ABC13

Tourism Industry Reacts to Proposed Tax Increase

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Reporter:  Carleigh Griffeth

Lynchburg, VA- Lynchburg businesses are upset over the proposal made at Tuesday night's city council meeting to increase the lodging tax. 

It would affect hotels, and some argue, lead to fewer visitors to the Hill City.

This comes on the heels of the big fight over the meals tax. The restaurants won that battle, and now the hotels are trying to win this one.

They say the entire tourism industry is based on affordable lodging. They worry this move could send tourists and their money elsewhere.

It's all about competition, and some say a lodging tax increase puts Lynchburg out of the game.

"They have a concern about Lynchburg being able to be competitive," said Beckie Nix, director of DiscoverLynchburg.

If the lodging tax does increase and room prices go up, hotels may not be the only businesses affected.  Any drop in tourists staying at local hotels could mean less shopping, dining and buying local.

"You're going to have that trickle down into the restaurant industry and local businesses because when people come in they ask us what to do, and we have so many different things we can send people towards," said Travis Dunn, assistant general manager for Wingate by Wyndham.

Some of the things that are putting Lynchburg on the map for tourism are Snowflex, the Blackwater Creek Trail and numerous museums.

"And if we take a hit and people stop coming the waiters and waitresses aren't going to have people at their tables anymore, and businesses aren't going get the out of town travelers that come in and look for something to do," said Dunn.

Lynchburg made $143 million from tourism last year. The hospitality industry doesn't want to see those numbers drop.

"In the end, what you're talking about is cutting revenue and economic impact to the community," said Nix.

We are only in the preliminary stages of this proposal. Tuesday night city council will meet again. They will have the chairman of the tourism board in to discuss what this increase could really mean for Lynchburg.

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