Council OKs tourism fee for hotel rooms

A nightly fee is expected to raise up to $300,000 for marketing.

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WALLA WALLA -- The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the development of a new tourism promotion area that is expected to raise as much as $300,000 for tourism marketing.

The TPA will raise the funds by imposing a $1.25-$1.50 nightly room fee for all lodging facilities with 40 or more rooms; its formation was spearheaded and voted on by local hoteliers, but it also received the support of other business representatives, including Tourism Walla Walla and the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Just in case the TPA fails to produce the results that hoteliers are expecting, a clause was included to allow the affected lodging facilities the ability to dissolve the TPA.

A number of local hoteliers testified in support of the TPA and didn't expect the room fee to hurt tourism.

"We think that it is a very calculated risk because it is basically a moot point. A dollar-twenty-five to a dollar-fifty will not dissuade people from coming to Walla Walla," said TPA representative Ron Anderson.

The $200,000 to $300,000 raised will be used to increase tourism, trade shows and sporting events in the area. In addition, TPA funds will also be used to develop a Walla Walla Sports Commission that would market the city as a sporting events venue.

The TPA room fees are expected to go into effect Oct. 1 of this year.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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