- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) - Idaho is on track to collect record-high lodging taxes this year as the state sees a spike in tourism.

Officials said they expect the state to surpass the $10 million mark in revenue from the 2 percent lodging tax for the fiscal year that ends June 30, the Lewiston Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1WKWwPH).

At the Idaho Conference on Recreation and Tourism in Moscow, Department of Commerce Director Megan Ronk said the state is experiencing a 13 percent growth in the tax over last year.

Ronk said lodging tax collections could grow in the future as the state is expected to gain about 1,200 new hotel and motel rooms by the end of 2017.

Travel spending in the state totaled about $3.3 billion in 2015, up from about $2.7 billion in 2010, according to Bill Klein, whose firm Dean Runyan Associates in Portland, Oregon, did a study on the influence of tourism on Idaho. About 75 percent of tourist money came from out-of-state visitors, he said.

The growth means good things for Idaho tourism, which is the state’s third-largest industry, behind agriculture and technology.

The state has been working to make Idaho a vacation destination, including an “18 summers” campaign that encourages parents to take more family vacations while their children are growing up. That campaign is targeting travelers in Seattle and Reno but Reno said Idaho residents should also take advantage of the state’s vacation opportunities.

“We have so many awesome experiences right here in our backyard,” Ronk said.

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Information from: Lewiston Tribune, http://www.lmtribune.com

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