YORK, PA - The York County Convention & Visitors Bureau today thanked the state Senate for passing legislation that will provide for equitable tourism funding in York County, where visitors spend more than $907 million each year.
The Senate approved House Bill 794, bipartisan legislation that gives 57 counties, including York County, the option to raise their maximum hotel room tax from 3 percent to 5 percent to support local tourism promotion efforts. The bill levels an uneven playing field and allows further investment in York County, home to engaging factory tours, historical attractions, and the Mason-Dixon Wine and Susquehanna Ale trails.
Anne Druck, President of the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau, thanked the state Senate for supporting fair tourism funding and urged the House to send the bill to the Governor.
"This bill is the culmination of years of hard work, and we're thankful to the lawmakers who have pushed this bill so close to the finish line," Druck said. "Tourism is a competitive business, and we're battling with every other state across the country to lure visitors to Pennsylvania and York County. We have been fighting with one hand tied behind our back for far too long. House Bill 794 will level the playing field and let us do even more to ensure our tourism industry thrives in the Factory Tour Capital of the World."
York County policymakers and local stakeholders have played a key role in the quest for equitable tourism funding.
Representative Keith Gillespie, R-York, sponsored the legislation, and Senator Scott Wagner, R-York, championed it in his chamber. Beverly Mackereth, the former state representative and current lobbyist, worked tirelessly behind the scenes to move the bill forward. Gov. Tom Wolf, who will ultimately have the power to sign the bill into law, also hails from York County.
There's no surprise that the legislation is of vital interest to York County. While York County's current room tax is set at 3 percent, neighboring counties have a rate of 5 percent, giving them a distinct advantage when it comes to efforts to attract visitors.
"This bill will eliminate an unnecessary competitive disadvantage and allow local communities to invest in important tourism ventures," Senator Wagner said. "Boosting tourism funding is a common-sense move, considering visitors already spend more than $900 million a year in York County. This bill could bring the county an additional $1 million to invest in itself annually."
York County tourism stakeholders four years ago reached consensus regarding how proceeds from a room tax rate of 5 percent would be invested, but York County Commissioners cannot raise the tax without enabling legislation from the state.
If York County were to enact a 5-percent tax, partner stakeholders in the York County tourism industry would realize the vast majority of direct benefits. They would be supported either with increased dedicated funding or access to potential grant money, awarded by a Grant Committee comprised of local tourism stakeholders. The York County CVB will provide industry expertise and administrative support to the Committee.
"It's important to realize that this is a victory for the entire community. When our local tourism industry is strong, York County is strong," Druck said. "This legislation will help us promote our already vibrant downtown centers, gorgeous public parks and top-notch meeting facilities, plus so much more."
House Bill 794 now moves back to the state House, where lawmakers must concur with changes made by the Senate. If approved, it will go to Governor Wolf for his signature.
"While we have traveled a long road to reach this point, we are happy to know that lawmakers recognize the importance of tourism to York County and the rest of Pennsylvania," Druck said. "We could not have done this without the support of our local delegation and lawmakers across the state, as well as the remarkable efforts of our industry coalition."
About the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau
The York County Convention & Visitors Bureau's mission is to maximize tourism expenditures and their economic impact in York County, PA, through comprehensive tourism sales and marketing programs. The York County CVB's vision is for a York County where tourism is recognized for the value of its economic impact and its role in raising the profile of York County as a sought-after destination. For more information on the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau, call 888-858-9675 or visit www.yorkpa.org.