Chester County visitors group praises legislation that closes room tax loophole

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Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau (CCCVB) praised Gov. Tom Wolf for signing House Bill 1511 into law.

Now known as Act 109 of 2018, this legislation closes a loophole in the state’s tax code to ensure fairness in hotel occupancy tax remittance, a release stated.

This legislation was championed by the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association (PRLA) on behalf of the state’s hospitality and tourism industries.

According to Susan Hamley, CCCVB executive director, and Brandywine Chapter of PRLA board member, “The passing of House Bill 1511 is the culmination of a tremendous effort by PRLA, our supportive legislators and hospitality stakeholders throughout PA. It will benefit every county in Pennsylvania by adding much-needed funding to our State Tourism Office. Pennsylvania has fallen behind in promoting its great assets due to funding cuts over the last few years. This boost will be a positive economic influencer for not only our county but the region and entire state as well.”

Act 109 requires online travel companies to remit occupancy tax based on the final price paid by consumers, rather than the lower wholesale rate negotiated by the online travel companies.

“This legislation levels the playing field between our in-state hotels, who employ hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, and out-of-state online travel companies who have been remitting lower tax amounts for years,” said Jim Gratton, chairman of the PRLA board of directors.

As part of this legislation, the funds that will result from closing the loophole – estimated at $23.8 million a year – will be dedicated to statewide tourism promotion. A 2015 study conducted by PRLA found that every dollar invested in tourism marketing returns $3.43 in tax revenue.

“Tourism promotion is a proven revenue generator,” said John Longstreet, president & CEO of PRLA. “This legislation is a win-win for the state and its taxpayers, as well as all Pennsylvania businesses in the tourism industry.”

Act 109 also ensures that hotel occupancy tax is assessed on the retail price of hotel rooms at both the state and county level, further ensuring fairness in collection and remittance while giving county destination marketing organizations additional resources for promotion.

The Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau, created in 1963, is a not-for-profit, independent organization that serves as the official Tourism Promotion Agency for Chester County. The Bureau maintains the Brandywine Valley Tourism Information Center in Kennett Square.

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