To the editor:
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? That question sums up a good portion of the debate surrounding the proposed 5 percent hotel/motel tax to fund a convention and visitors bureau in Johnson County.
On one side, opponents suggest that Johnson County is not a tourist destination and there is not a major attraction to promote. The proponents of the tax suggest that promoting the county will attract businesses to locate here and encourage residents from surrounding areas to visit local establishments and events, creating revenue for the county.
Candlewood Suites, which has been an outspoken opponent of the tax, claims that they would lose an advantage when negotiating corporate contract rates if the tax were imposed. I would argue that that is a short-term view. Candlewood Suites built in their location with the anticipation of close proximity to a major retail development which failed to materialize.
It would seem to me that the hotel would be in favor of all efforts to promote the county as a great place to locate a corporate headquarters or major retail development. Common sense would tell you that aside from a desirable room rate the thing hotels have to promote are their in-house amenities and proximity to local attractions and businesses.
We are back to the chicken/egg debate. Would area hotels benefit by additional business/retail development — yes. Would a convention and visitor bureau be instrumental promoting that development — yes. In order for a CVB to be formed and funded, a hotel/motel tax must be implemented. Local hotels oppose the tax, saying it would remove their perceived price advantage. Yet it is the very same tax that provides them the means to become an even more desirable place to stay.
Yes, one should never count their chickens before they hatch, but they will never hatch if we don’t first lay the egg. I urge the council members to pass the hotel/motel tax on Jan. 13.
Eileen Meyer, member,
Journey Johnson County