New Tourism Tax In Wichita Step Closer To Approval

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) _ The City of Wichita is considering a new marketing program to attract visitors to the city and would be funded through an additional hotel tax of 2.75% per night.

Today, the Wichita City Council held a special meeting on the proposed Tourism Business Improvement District, TBID, to promote tourism and provide certain related services within the city.

Go Wichita, the local convention and visitors bureau, said it needs more money to attract people from out of town.

"Everyone understands the impact of a visitor when they come to their community. Visitors spent over a billion dollars in Wichita, so it's the purest form of economic development.," said Susie Santo, president and CEO of Go Wichita.

The funds would come from leveling an annual fee on all hotels having 50 rooms or more within the Wichita city limits. It is estimated that the fee would generate about $3-million a year for additional marketing.

The council first talked about the TBID proposal in January.

Some critics said local businesses will be paying for the hotel tax since many Wichita companies bring staff members into town.

"We need to remember the businesses who bring in their customers," said Susan Estes with American for Prosperity in Wichita. "We need to remember the Wichita families who bring family in for weddings and reunions and holidays."

The 2014 Wichita city budget allocates more than $8-million for conventions and self-promotion.

If approved at the March 18th meeting, the TBID would go in effect in 2015.

Posted by Greg Palmer