Green River Star -

By DAVID MARTIN
Editor 

County lodging tax declines in 2017

 

February 7, 2018



Revenues from the county’s lodging tax declined by 11 percent during the 2016-17 fiscal year, according to a report from the Sweetwater County Joint Travel and Tourism Board.

Jenissa Meredith, executive director for the board, said the decline was due to declines in the county’s workforce and economy. She said 65 percent of the county’s hotel occupancy is tied to the workforce in Sweetwater County and declines in jobs resulted in declines in hotel occupancy.

During the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the lodging tax generat

ed $851,170 in revenue for the board. The previous fiscal year as a record setting period for the board, which received $961,006 from the lodging tax. 

Meredith said the lodging tax will be on the ballot for county voters in November, though she isn’t sure how much the board will seek, saying she will have a better idea once the Wyoming Legislature’s upcoming budget session concludes.

In 2014, the travel and tourism board sought an increase in the lodging tax, from 2 percent to 3 percent. County voters approved that increase. 

The tax supports out-of-area marketing for the county as well as grants offered by the travel and tourism board to support local events that generate hotel occupancy. Meredith said the board issued grants to 30 local events in 2017, including Green River-based events such as Flaming Gorge Days, Flaming Gorge Classic Basketball Tournament and the Green River Knights Invitational. The board also provides an annual block grant to the Green River Chamber of Commerce to help it operate as a visitors center. According to information released by the tourism board, the grant amounted to $34,200.

Meredith said she has worked on opportunities to generate more tourism spending in the county. One opportunity involved working to place the county on an European tour route through the U.S. The company she worked with had four tours pass through the area in 2017, which she said resulted in a verbal commitment to bring additional tours through Rock Springs and Green River in the future.

“That was a big win for us,” she told the Green River City Council Tuesday evening.

Meredith also said she has applied to have the county host the 3A and 4A Wyoming State High School Soccer Tournament and applied to have Green River host the Wyoming State Speech and Debate Tournament in 2020.

Tourism in Sweetwater County brought in an estimated $151 million to the county’s economy, according to information released by the board. Meredith said the tourism industry within the county supports 1,560 jobs.

 

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