Tourism Promotion Area meant to raise money with room taxes

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A new Tourism Promotion Area, spearheaded by local hoteliers and approved by the Walla Walla City Council, is expected to raise more money for tourism promotions through a room tax.

The Walla Walla City Council unanimously approved the proposal, expected to raise as much as $300,000. The new fee is different from the lodging tax that overnight guests pay at local hotels because that tax is distributed through an advisory committee organized by the city. Use of the new fee will be determined by the hoteliers.

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.

The fee shouldn't dissuade visitors from staying in local rooms, said TPA representative Ron Anderson. But the benefit could have a big impact on building tourism, trade shows and sporting events in the area. TPA funds are also expected to help develop a Walla Walla Sports Commission that would market the city as a sporting events venue.

In case the efforts don't produce the expected results, a clause will allow the affected lodging facilities to dissolve the TPA. The new room fees are expected to take effect Oct. 1.

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