Lancaster County tourism agency asks to hike hotel tax

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Feb 10, 2017 4:20 PM

Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Utente:TheCadExpert

(Lancaster) -- A nonprofit that promotes tourism in a midstate county wants to raise hotel taxes to pay for more TV and online ads.

Discover Lancaster is proposing to raise the tax from about one percent to three percent.

It estimates that raising Lancaster County's hotel tax would raise at least $3 million a year.

Discover Lancaster says the move would allow it to air TV ads in Philadelphia and New York, and add to its online content.

"We'd go back into television, that's the best way to raise awareness. So we'd go back into two major markets, likely Philadelphia and New York, and we'd put those funds into additional advertising efforts, says Kathleen Frankford, president of Discover Lancaster.

She says as state funding has dropped off, it's been forced to cut its budget by forty percent, to about $3 million.

Frankford says while tourism numbers have held steady, she says Lancaster's competitors like the Jersey Shore and Hershey have grown faster.

"There have been studies all over the country of different destinations who have stopped spending and what has happened to their visitation. A lot of businesses can say the same thing. They stop marketing their products, they'll see a decline in sales," she says.

Frankford says the proposed higher hotel tax would cost the average visitor about $2 a night.

Lancaster County Commissioners would have to approve any change.

Frankford says she thinks commissioners recognize the value of tourism, and is hopeful they'll okay the increase.

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