A faction of lodging owners in Maggie Valley is hoping to derail a tax increase on overnight accommodations.
The money brought in — roughly $450,000 a year — would be dedicated solely to building tourism attractions or improving existing ones.
The prospects of Haywood County’s tourism development tax increase making it through the General Assembly in Raleigh this year is highly likely — or perhaps highly unlikely. It depends on whom you ask.
The mountains are an undeniable tourist magnet, but with so many WNC destinations to chose from, the crusade to stand out from the pack is prompting county tourism agencies to constantly refine and redefine their message.
What will entice a vacationer to their corner of the Smokies — will outdoor adventures catch their eye, a quaint downtown draw them in or mountain music festivals win them over?
Jackson County is one step closer to giving money to the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad to outfit the scenic rail line with a refurbished steam engine in hopes of getting a tourist boost in return.
By Ken Stahl • Guest Columnist
There appears to be controversy concerning the proposed 2 percent occupancy tax increase. This is a good thing as it generates a reflection on concerns of the stakeholders. Several issues have been discussed, and a lot of people have been confused as to what this is all about.
We here in Haywood County must rely on tourism for our livelihood. Almost all of our industrial jobs are gone. The big players in tourism here in Western North Carolina are our neighbor to the east, Buncombe County, and our neighbors to the west, the Cherokee. Buncombe County tourists spend approximately $729 million per year in the county. Swain County tourists spend approximately $256 million. We struggle to get tourists to spend $116 million annually with us.
The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority board responded to outcries from Maggie Valley business owners about a proposed lodging tax increase during its meeting last week.
Several business owners in Maggie voiced their collective concerns about the possible increase at a town meeting two days prior. A portion of the meeting was spent correcting misperceptions about the matter.
The Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen got an earful from hotel and motel owners Monday during a nearly three-hour meeting held specifically to hear views about a proposed increase to the overnight lodging tax.
The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority and the county board of commissioners both unanimously approved the idea of a hike in the lodging tax — from the current rate of 4 percent to 6 percent. The Maggie Valley Chamber of Commerce has also written a letter of support.
If anyone opposes an increase in Haywood County’s overnight lodging tax, they did not make their enmity known at Monday’s board of commissioners meeting.
Haywood County tourism leaders want to increase the tax on overnight lodging to fund special tourism-related capital projects, including a Jonathan Creek sports complex — a proposal that seems to have traction with county commissioners as well.
Ten years after the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area won federal designation, themed signs tying together 65 attractions throughout the mountains will finally be installed this year.