At their most recent meeting, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA) Board of Directors voted unanimously (with 1 abstention) to support a legislative bill which will originate from Governor Brown’s office in support of a permanent 1.8% statewide lodging tax rate during the 2020 Oregon Legislative Session. Revenue raised by the statewide lodging tax is invested in Travel Oregon’s efforts to strengthen the economic impact of our state’s tourism industry. Oregon’s statewide lodging tax is currently collected at a rate of 1.8% with a reduction in the rate scheduled to take effect as of July 1, 2020 to a permanent rate of 1.5%.
“We appreciate Governor Brown’s proactive outreach to meet with ORLA and some of our key lodging stakeholders in person to discuss the merits of keeping the statewide lodging tax rate at 1.8% permanently,” said Jason Brandt, President & CEO of ORLA. “Our goals for lodging tax rate structures in Oregon are two-fold – protecting all statewide lodging tax resources to create return on investment for the industry through the efforts of Travel Oregon and protecting local lodging tax reforms passed in the 2003 Legislative Session.”
Oregon continues to experience healthy growth in tourism spending logging our ninth consecutive year of industry growth in 2018. Compared to 2017, visitor spending was up 4.2% reaching a record $12.3 billion. Industry employment was also up year over year by 2.9% to approximately 115,400. Year over year, hotel room revenue increased by 4.4% as well.
“We have seen firsthand what strategic investments in tourism promotion can do when industry tax dollars are put to their most effective use,” said Brandt. “With many other competing priorities in the Capitol, it is essential the association protects the appropriate use of these dollars at both the local and state levels. The economic impacts we are seeing are significant not just for our industry but for our public sector partners as well.”
The U.S. Travel Association tracks statewide economic impact throughout the country and assists states in quantifying the value of year over year tourism growth. The most recently available data notates Oregon’s tourism growth at 5.3% when comparing 2016 to 2017, further substantiating the value of healthy tourism growth for Oregon’s public sector. From 2016 to 2017, Oregon experienced visitor spending growth of $652 million. That increase in spending and associated payroll income tax increases equates to as many as 410 firefighter positions, 380 police officer positions, or 380 teacher positions.
ORLA continues to focus on the protection of local lodging tax dollars for tourism promotion and tourism related facilities in addition to support given to Governor Brown’s upcoming legislative bill for the statewide resource. Oregon’s local lodging tax structure can be complicated with over 110 different city and county jurisdictions collecting a transient lodging tax outside of the 1.8% statewide tax. Important guidelines have been in place for the past 16 years for how local lodging tax dollars can be spent. To clarify those parameters, ORLA recently produced a new instructional video to assist all stakeholders and the general public in better understanding the rules which govern local lodging tax resources.
The new video specific to local lodging taxes (not to be confused with Oregon’s 1.8% statewide lodging tax) can be viewed here:
For more information about the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association’s policies on transient lodging taxes, please reach out to Greg Astley, ORLA’s Director of Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org via email.
NOTE: This position statement was drafted by local restaurateurs and foodservice operations doing business in Hood River County and as a result reflects the official position of our statewide association on their behalf.
Hood River County needs a solution to their budget shortfall, but this is an ill-conceived way to do it. There is still a three-year runway to find a financial solution and this measure is fundamentally flawed. Measure 14-66 is bad for Hood River County for the following reasons:
Bad for Businesses
- Entire tax burden carried by just one business segment – this is not a fair tax.
- Restaurants are seasonal and already struggle in the winter.
- Already hit by massive cost increases from higher minimum wages and unequal share of business property taxes.
- Restaurant sales taxes are shown to shift demand to large corporate chains and grocery stores, hurting local restaurants and farms.
- Tax is complex and hard for small restaurants to implement and comply with.
Bad for Workers
- Will reduce overall income and overall employment opportunities.
- Will reduce tip income as customers will tip less to offset additional tax cost.
- Restaurant employees already struggle with affordable housing and this will compound that, especially in winter months.
Bad for Residents
- Residents will shoulder most of the tax burden as they eat in restaurants all year long. Tourism is only a factor for a few months of the year.
- Residents want to support and access local farmers and locally sourced food. This tax creates a headwind for that.
- Restaurant sales plummet during economic downturns, making this an unstable source of income for the county.
Let’s ask Hood River County to bring a fair and sustainable option for raising these funds.
Business Association Letter to the Revenue Committees
The Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association is one of 22 business associations who signed the following letter submitted to the revenue committees on March 21, 2019.
As representatives of Oregon’s leading private-sector employers, we recognize that the Legislature intends to pass significant new taxes this year, most of which will fall on Oregon’s businesses, small and large.
As we consider tax proposals, our organizations will be guided by the following principles: