Posted on Jul 28, 2019
Lindsay Barker, Director of Wichita Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau presented information about the Hotel Occupancy Tax to SW Rotary July 1.  Her first slide summarizes the HOT Tax as the tax we don't pay since we sleep in our own beds as residents of the community.  This tax would raise hotel costs by 2% or $2 for a $100 hotel room. In the course of a year, would raise about $600,000.  This revenue could be used to pay a long term $6M bond for needed repairs to the MPEC facilities as well as Memorial Auditorium to make our aging facilities more attractive as entertainment venues, boosting the amount of money spent by visitors.
Lindsay noted that in 2018, travel spending was $239M, supporting over 3,000 jobs in Wichita County.
We have included slide images from Lindsay's presentation to tell the story.
Lindsay started by giving us the summary of what the Convention and Visitor's Bureau does. This team markets the city making sure that conventions, entertainment and sporting events are aware of the what we have to offer.
Examples include the 2019 NHPA World Horseshoe Tournament July 22 - August 3, 2019. Join the best horseshoe pitchers from around the world and witness first-class competitions during the 13-day tournament period.

Hundreds of athletes from various countries and thousands of spectators are visiting Wichita Falls, Texas for the biggest horseshoe tournament of the year.

Lindsay noted that last year:
- 32 events were booked by the CVB,
- Resulting in 8,500 hotel stays
- With 24,500+ visitors to our community
2018 Direct Travel Spending in Wichita County was $239.9 Million, an increase of $14million more than in 2017.
And for the 2018 Direct Travel Spending in Wichita Metro area was $264.8 Million,  an increase of$16.4million from 2017.
As you can see from the Travel Impact slide on the right, over 3,000 jobs are supported by the spending of visitors to our area.
While lots of folks ask if anyone visits Wichita Falls, or what there is to do . . . . . . . . . . . here are some statistics from just a few of the events last year - Note we had 2.55 million visitors!! WOW=
The number one reason people visited was for family and other life events - birthdays, weddings, etc.
Our hotels are staying full - in fact for March, April and May, occupancies were in the 83.5% to 90% range for the mid market hotels favored by most business traveler.
Many people wonder why the two larger hotels (on either side of the river near downtown aren't in operation and ask "Why doesn't the city do something about these hotels?"  As they are privately owned, paying taxes and any fines assessed by the city for code violations, there is nothing the city can do.
Also, the Hotel Occupancy Tax proposal is totally unrelated to the proposed MPEC Hotel. The current discussion are for private ownership and management with no new taxes for citizens.  Market studies show we need this hotel -- later you will see what competing cities are doing.
A Hotel Occupancy Tax is paid for by those who stay in the Hotels.  You can see from the Market Comparison slide that many other city are charging 15% Hotel Occupancy Tax, the maximum allowed by the State of Texas. Note that 6% of this tax goes to the state.  Wichita Falls is current charging 13%, so we are proposing to increase the HOT tax to 15% to allow for repairs to the MPEC and Municipal Auditorium.
Denton, Midland and Lubbock have some amazing facilities to attract conventions and win the hotel stays and visitor spending.
The proposed Ballot Language for the HOT tax, consist of two independent propositions, each proposing to raise the HOT tax to 15%.  One is for the MPEC and the other for Municipal Auditorium.  Note the language in each sets a maximum of 15% for the HOT tax.  So voters can approve either or both and the HOT Tax increases to 15% of the cost of a Hotel Room.
Right now we are in the Education part of the process.  Lindsay Barker and others are fanning out throughout the city talking to citizens and groups to help them understand the details, the benefits and garner support for the HOT Tax, the Tax we don't Pay.
Lindsay, thank you for the hard work and for sharing this message with the Rotary Club of Southwest Wichita Falls.