The Sampson County Convention and Visitors Bureau is pushing towards doubling the room occupancy tax for local lodging facilities, and commissioners gave their nod of approval in the efforts Thursday.
Nearly one year ago, commissioners showed their support for the increase by penning a letter to House of Representative members Larry Bell and William Brisson and state senator Brent Jackson. That request was introduced as legislation during the House’s recent short session, but the session adjourned prior to the bill being approved.
Shelia Barefoot, director of the Sampson CVB, once again asked commissioners to show their support in increasing the room occupancy tax from 3 percent to 6 percent.
“The ROT rate is the tax rate collected by lodging establishments withing a community that allows a Destination Marketing Organization to market its community to visitors, both business and leisure travelers,” Barefoot shared with the board Thursday afternoon during a budget planning session. “This is not a tax on local Sampson County tax payers or Sampson County property owners.”
The proposed room occupancy tax would fall in line with neighboring counties, with Wayne and Johnston at 5 percent and Cumberland, Duplin, Harnett and Pender at 6 percent.
With a room occupancy tax increase of 3 percent, Barefoot said the average annual revenue would increase approximately $17,000.
“An increase in the ROT would give us the ability to increase and enhance promotional marketing efforts,” Barefoot shared.
Revenues from ROT collections have increased in the last eight years since the formation of the Sampson County CVB. The average ROT collections over this time has been $66,545.
According to Barefoot, an increase in the room occupancy tax must be approved by the North Carolina General Assembly. During the recent short session, the bill that was introduced by Bell and Brisson was just steps away from being adopted.
In 2015, visitors spent nearly $48.3 million in Sampson, up from $47.2 in 2014, $46.1 million in 2013 and $45.1 million in 2012. Sales tax revenue generated for the state by visitors to Sampson totaled $2.73 million in 2015. Visitor spending generated local tax revenues of $1.53 million, Barefoot said.
The CVB board has the authority to spend up to two-thirds of funds on marketing and one-third of the funds on capital projects, those that have a public benefit. Barefoot said where those funds would actually go would be the subject of brainstorming sessions and strategic planning with stakeholders and citizens.
In addition to increasing the ROT rate, the CVB board has plans to create new marketing strategies and initiatives and a strategic plan for the bureau.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.