Visitors to Savannah or Chatham county spent more than $2.5 billion here in 2014. Nearly a third of that was spent on hotel lodgings alone.
The new $5 hotel motel tax is expected to ring in between $150-200 million in transportation revenue. that said, the tax of course has it’s opponents, but city leaders say now is the time to let your voice be heard before the tax is in place.
“right now there is an open comment on the regulation of how the five dollar hotel motel tax will be implemented,” says Savannah Tourism and Ambassadorship director Bridget Lidy.
More than 13 million people visited Savannah last year. Most of them spending on average one to two nights in hotels. Now visitors don’t have a chance to speak up about the incoming state tax on hotels, but locals can here.
The revenue from it will go to priority road projects most likely in and around the Atlanta area. Local state legislators like Lester Jackson have fought back the tax as have tourism leadership groups in Savannah. Lidy with the city’s tourism department though is not worried.
“From Savannah’s perspective in the marketplace for tourism, we’re a very popular destination, and it doesn’t look as though we are going to be losing our popularity anytime soon,” Lidy says.
So would five bucks added on each night really hurt the average tourist? We took that question to visitors.
“No probably not, ” says Justin Thompson who is visiting from Asheville, NC.
“No, I mean hotels are reasonable the way it is so five dollars more wouldn’t make a difference,” says Anita Thompson who is coming from Florida.
“No it wouldn’t it just it doesn’t make that much difference,” says Richard Barstow who’s from Connecticut and in town for a funeral but also touring around.
Now is the period where the department of revenue has questions that need answering. Would they wave the tax on large bookings for state conventions? Should the tax remain universal, hitting both high end and discount hotel chains? As much as now is the time to ask questions it’s also the time every tourist destination in the state is holding their breath and waiting to see how the state plans to regulate the tax.
“We don’t know what the final regulations are going to be because of the open comment period but we’re following it very very closely,” says Lidy.
The state revenue department’s list of regulations hotels will have to follow is listed on their site where you can also provide comments on them until June 26th.
You can weigh in on the tax and learn more about how the state plans to implement it by going to the DOR website here.