Bill Could Bolster CVB Coffers

February 12, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — State Rep. Michael Sak introduced a bill late last week that could give the Convention and Visitors Bureau up to another $1 million per year to further market West Michigan as a tourist destination and DeVos Place as a meeting place.

The legislation from the Grand Rapids Democrat and Speaker Pro Tempore of the state House would let the bureau collect an additional 2-percent tax on lodging tabs at most of the county’s hotels and motels. The CVB currently receives 2 percent.

But President Steve Wilson said the bureau would only ask lodging operators for an extra 1 percent and not the full amount that would be allowed.

“We used to compete in-state. But now we’re competing with cities like Indianapolis, Columbus and Pittsburgh for regional and national conventions, and those dollars would be directed toward that effort, as well as tourism in working with Travel Michigan,” said Sak.

Sak added that the CVB will approach the Kent County Lodging Association and ask the group’s members to add another 1 percent to their guests’ bills.

“It has to be approved by the lodging association before the CVB can collect it,” he said.

Sak said hotels and motels with 35 or fewer rooms are exempted from the added tax.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm recently vetoed a similar bill because it only included hotels and motels in Kent County. So Sak added Ingham County to his proposal and said the governor would sign his bill, if it comes to her desk.

“I included the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau in my legislation. The governor wanted Ingham County to be involved. And to make sure we’re taking care of Kent County, I included Ingham County,” he said.

“Right now, it looks like I have everyone on board.”

Should the legislation become law, lodging operators in the county could add 15 percent to a guest’s bill, but they would likely stop at 14 percent. Thirteen percent is tacked on to each bill right now, with the state getting 6 percent, the county 5 percent and the CVB 2 percent.

“This is enabling legislation. This is not a general tax. This is an assessment placed on those individuals who stay in hotels with more than 35 rooms,” said Sak.

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