In The News › Jefferson hotels to begin charging an extra 1 percent to help boost tourism

Jefferson hotels to begin charging an extra 1 percent to help boost tourism

By Chad Calder

The Advocate

August 11, 2016

Roughly 30 hotels in Jefferson Parish will begin adding a 1 percent charge to guests’ bills beginning in September, generating an estimated $860,000 per year that will be used to increase tourism marketing efforts for the parish.

The surcharge will be added to the existing tax rate of 12.75 percent on the West Bank and 13.75 percent on east bank.

While high, the rates are still less than the 15.75 percent tax rate, plus fees, charged in New Orleans, said Violet Peters, president of the Jefferson Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau. Because it is a surcharge, the new fee will not be taxed as hotel revenue by the government.

Jefferson began eyeing the charge in 2014, soon after New Orleans hotels initiated legislation to enact such a fee of their own.

The Jefferson CVB, which historically devoted its marketing budget to luring groups, had created a campaign aimed at individual tourists who might be looking to spend some time visiting areas outside New Orleans.

But the campaign was funded by a one-time source — $2.1 million in grant money from the BP oil spill — and the organization was looking for a way to keep it going. A self-assessment looked like the best way to do that.

The hotels with membership in the CVB voted July 29 to add the charge, with each hotel getting as many votes as it has rooms. The assessment needed at least two-thirds of the votes to pass. It received more than 90 percent support, the organization said Thursday.

Peters could not say what percentage of the Jefferson Parish market is composed of member hotels, but all 30 of those hotels will begin assessing the surcharge on Sept. 1, with the marketing campaign launching sometime next year.

She called the vote an impressive display of unity and support among Jefferson’s hoteliers and said the money will be put to good use bolstering a $1 billion industry that supports almost 10,000 jobs.

Self-assessments are not without critics, who say the fact that the charges are passed onto consumers makes them distinct from, say, a business improvement district.

The Bureau of Governmental Research, a local nonpartisan think tank, opposed the self-assessment by New Orleans hotels, saying such surcharges diminish the ability of governments to propose their own taxes to generate revenue.

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