Room tax collections at highest levels since 2007
A sign that the local economy maybe starting to improve, at least for those in the tourist industry, room tax collections reached their highest levels since 2007 for the first half of this year.
“We had our largest collection from the first quarter this year since 2007 and the largest collection from the second quarter since 2008,” Chamber of Commerce director Lara Reed said. “People are taking vacations more and that is good for us.”
The area took in $33,500 in room tax for January, February and March this year compared to $27,100 last year during the same time period. For the span of April, May and June, the area took in $39,500 compared to $31,500 a year ago.
“That is a pretty significant jump that allows us a cushion,” Reed said.
The tax is imposed on those staying in rented facilities, such as resorts and hotels, and goes toward the Chamber’s advertising fund.
That fund is responsible for airing commercials and promoting the area around the state and the Midwest.
“We do a lot of ads and marketing in Milwaukee and the Fox Valley area,” Reed said. “We also do a lot online.”
With the influx of increased funds, Reed said the Chamber will shoot new television commercials to update the old ones.
“We last shot television commercials in 2005 and 2006 so they are a little bit outdated,” she said.
And those commercials focus on the things that brought the tourists to the area in the first place, including fishing, boating, hiking along with skiing, snowmobiling and other winter sports according to Reed.
“We still see people coming here to do those traditional things,” she said.
But tourists are breaking tradition in the type of vacation they are taking in the Northwoods.
“We are starting to see more and more people staying over the weekend,” Reed said. “It used to be they would come up and stay a Saturday to Saturday type vacation. But we are seeing a lot more weekend trips.”
That maybe good or bad for local businesses as the room tax increase shows more people are returning to the area but with the weekend trips, it gives visitors less time to spend in shops and restaurants.
But for now, the increase in room tax monies is a step toward economic recover and shows no signs of slowing down.
“It looks like we had a real strong June so we are excited to see how we do in June, July and August,” Reed said. “That is typically our strongest quarter.”