County leaders look to boost tourism revenue by charging visitors
BELLEFONTE, Pa. (WJAC) —
Visitors to Centre County could be paying more on their hotel, or motel bills as early as next year.
County leaders are looking to boost the county's tourism industry by doubling a surcharge currently included on those bills.
Most would think of Penn State football games or other university events as the main events in drawing visitors to Centre County, but the county's tourism bureau said there's a lot more to feature here in Centre County. They said the added surcharge fee on hotel and motel guests, could bring in millions of dollars.
Tourism is already a big business in Centre County. Leaders said the county has about $800 million coming in for recreation, restaurants and hotels.
That figure is from a state tourism survey for last year, but the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau said that number could grow significantly.
Centre County hotel, motel and bed-and-breakfast visitors currently pay a 2.5 percent hotel occupancy tax on their bills. The tourism bureau wants to double it to 5 percent.
Officials said the surcharge will raise $137 million in new visitor spending and provide 320 more jobs.
There are also other benefits projected: The occupancy tax revenue is shared with tourism related events throughout the county, and the visitors' bureau itself wants to expand.
The current hotel occupancy rates in the State College area are near 63 percent, about 5 points below the national average.