The area’s $3,000-per-year budget for tourism promotion could drastically increase next year if the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce is approved to receive a portion of the state accommodations tax. The annual budget that the Chamber's tourism committee works with is less than $3,000, said Debbie Vandeberg, the Chamber’s executive director. "So this additional revenue is huge to allow us to market our community and the area outside the boundaries of the state of Montana." That money means more tourists, economic development and money in the community, she added. Currently, a 7 percent tax is collected by the state from lodging establishments, including hotels, motels, guest ranches, resorts and campgrounds in the state. Three percent of that tax goes to the state's general fund, and the other 4 percent goes to the Department of Commerce for tourism. The Havre area is now eligible for a portion of the funds because the recent annexation of the AmericInn and Super 8 helped the area meet fund eligibility criteria, Vandeberg said. City Council will vote tonight as one of the initial steps in the process of obtaining the funds, Vandeberg said Council is being asked to designate the Chamber as the administrator of the portion of the 4 percent bed tax that will fund a local Visitors and Convention Bureau. Usually, a chamber of commerce takes on the role, since it is a nonprofit organization that promotes tourism, she said. Then a marketing plan and budget must be completed and approved by the state, and other steps must be taken, she said. "And nothing would probably happen until after the state's fiscal year ends June 30," she said. The amount that Havre could receive depends on the total taxes collected, although the amount would be significant. The projected money received statewide from the bed tax in 2010 is $29 million, she said. That means $16 million of that goes to tourism promotion. The money would be designated for outof- state promotion. There are 11 bureaus in the state, Vandeberg said, but they are generally in larger areas such as Missoula and Great Falls. Miles City is the most recent addition to the list, she said. "So it's actually kind of exciting that we have met the magical threshold."
Chamber could soon see hike in tourism dollars
Published: Monday, February 1st, 2010
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