The Blount County Commission on Thursday, Dec. 18, voted to increase the hotel/motel tax from 4 cents to 5 cents.
The resolution now goes to Nashville where state lawmakers must amend the private act to allow it to be done. It then comes back to the commission to be ratified. “It takes a two/third vote to ratify it,” County Mayor Jerry Cunningham said.
The Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau would like to use proceeds from the tax increase to purchase a 10-acre piece of property adjacent to the Visitors Center on East Lamar Alexander Parkway in Townsend.
“It can be used to promote tourism,” said Cunningham. “After that piece of property is paid for, it will generate revenue in excess of the note payment that can also be used for promoting tourism,” Cunningham said.
The mayor said the tax moved from 4 to 5 cents on the dollar. Currently the hotel/motel tax is split, with 50 percent going to the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau, 12 and a half cents going to the Smoky Mountain Visitors Center and 37 and a half cents going to the county.
“The additional one percent will go totally into promoting tourism,” Cunningham said. “This is such a beautiful area and people really love to come here. The revenue tourism generates and the jobs it brings are just phenomenal.”
Cunningham said tourism is a huge industry in Blount County.
“We need to be respectful of it and promote it in the right manner and be respectful of the opinions of the people involved in the tourism industry. We have to hear what they’re saying.”