Legislative Update from Lee James— Working to Ensure Tourism is Booming in Pennsylvania

The American Dream is one every legal citizen should have available to them. Opportunity is one of those categories. It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic impacted everyone, particularly the tourism industry. When tourism thrives, so does the Commonwealth.

My colleagues and I understand we must continue to support the tourism industry. That’s why there are two bills currently in the works within the House of Representatives.

House Bill 554 would use future federal dollars to create a $15 million grant program for Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs). The grants would be based on the difference in hotel tax revenue in April 2020 compared to April 2019. Many industries need our help, and tourism is one that will revive our economy and help us recover. COVID-19 is on the decline and promoting our Commonwealth as a travel destination needs to begin now.

House Bill 829 would allocate a portion of the 6% state hotel occupancy tax to support tourism marketing, museums and the arts. Tourism is Pennsylvania’s second largest industry, with the economic impact estimated at $45 billion. Currently, the money collected from that tax is being directed into the general budget. Dedicating even one percentage point of the 6% state tax on hotel stays will build up the state marketing budget, leading to more tourists in the Keystone State.

Under the bill, 60% of revenue would be directed towards promoting and marketing the Commonwealth to out-of-state visitors, while the remaining 40% would fund state programs for local museums and arts and cultural organizations that tourists visit. The bill boosts funding while creating and maintaining jobs.

Tourism is normalcy. It’s time to help an industry that sacrificed so much during the pandemic. It’s time to ensure the tourism industry is once again booming.

This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s July 2021 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

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