Park County’s 4% Lodging Tax Makes Millions of Dollars Far and Wide
Written by Andrew-Rossi on October 20, 2020
Park County’s 4% Lodging Tax is up for renewal in the upcoming election, and its potential benefits extend well beyond the hotels and RV parks in Cody and Powell.
Claudia Wade, director of the Park County Travel Council, presented the case for the tax’s renewal during the Cody Club meeting yesterday. She took time to address many of the tax’s misconceptions in addition to its wide reach in northwest Wyoming.
The lodging tax has been in place in Park County since 1986 when it was 2% for anyone booking a reservation at a hotel, campground, RV park, or any other accommodation in Park County. Residents voted to raise the tax to 4% in 1996.
That money raised from the lodging tax can only be used to promote tourism in the county.
As expected, tourists pay most of this tax. The numbers back it up. In 2019, visitors to the county paid over $10 million dollars in sales tax.
The Park County Travel Council’s annual budget of over $2 million dollars comes entirely from the lodging tax. 77% of that $2 million dollar budget is used on the promotion of Park County through every medium possible – TV, billboards, the Cody Yellowstone website, and other means to reach potential visitors outside the county.
We, as Park County residents, don’t see the media paid for by this budget. Wade said, “if Cody residents saw those promotions, we wouldn’t be doing our job very well.”
But they directly benefit from the revenues those visitors bring to the county – and our businesses.
Wade took the time to specify exactly what counts as Park County. In terms of the lodging tax, the county is not just Cody, Powell, Meeteetse, and the other towns and municipalities. It’s a significant portion of Yellowstone National Park as well.
The 4% lodging tax is collected from the reservations at hotels and campgrounds in Mammoth, Fishing Bridge, Canyon, Norris, and Roosevelt. Despite being in the park, all those locations are technically still within the boundaries of Park County.
This is especially good news in 2020, as the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel will be the only Yellowstone hotel open throughout the entire winter, unlike the recently closed Old Faithful Snow Lodge.
There’s no doubt that the closures and slowdowns of the pandemic will affect the Travel Council’s budget. Thankfully, the council spends money that’s available, not anticipated. The funding for 2020’s marketing came from the tax revenue earned in 2019’s fiscal year.
Future years may be difficult, which is why the passage of the 4% lodging tax is of stupendous importance in a few weeks. As Wade said during Monday’s presentation, “if the council’s $2 million dollar budget disappears, how will that affect your business?”