Hotel Tax Breaks Record – but Barely

funds go to boost tourism in Eau Claire

Tom Giffey

Room tax collections inched upward in the City of Eau Claire last year, setting an all-time record – and that means more money for promoting tourism in the city.

The city collected $2,022,038 in room taxes in 2018, or about $17,000 more than the year before, Visit Eau Claire reported recently. That’s an increase of just under 1 percent over the 2017 total. Linda John, executive director of Visit Eau Claire, noted that while room tax growth had slowed (the total rose more than 6 percent between 2016 and 2017) it had nonetheless set a new high point. The total for 2018 was poised to be even higher until the year was drawing to a close, John said: Year-over-year hotel room revenue dipped nearly 10 percent in December. John doesn’t know exactly what caused the decline, but she suspects it may have something to do with the number of new hotels that have sprung up near Eau Claire but outside the city limits.

Room tax collections rose in 2018 vs. 2017 during most months, with notable increases in May (10.6 percent) and September (9.1 percent), although those were mostly offset by declines in December (9.8 percent) and June (6.2 percent).

Overall, taxable revenue by hotels and motels in the city limits amounted to $25.8 million in 2018. The city’s room tax is 8 percent, and 70 percent of the proceeds go to Visit Eau Claire for the purposes of boosting the city as a tourism destination.

Room taxes are zig-zagging in the new year as well. They rose 8.1 percent in January, but fell last month, likely because the extreme winter weather kept travelers away. In the short term, John hopes to boost the number of visitors to Eau Claire by promoting online packages that include discounts on lodging, dining, and other costs. Visit Eau Claire is also closely involved with the new Wintermission Eau Claire effort, which aims to encourage people to be more active during the cold months.

To learn more about Visit Eau Claire, go to visiteauclaire.com.

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