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Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Nov. 28, 2023

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Visit Vancouver to put portion of $700K it will receive from lodging tax toward tourism master plan

City 'emerging as a visitor destination,' official says

By , Columbian staff writer

Visit Vancouver is set to receive $700,000 from the city’s lodging tax to boost tourist programs and advertising.

The tourism-focused marketing organization will use part of the money to support its first-ever tourism master plan, which should be finalized in the next month, according to Cliff Myers, president and CEO of Visit Vancouver.

“It’s no secret that we are an emerging destination, and people are starting to think of us as a place to visit and enjoy outside of the Portland metro area,” Myers said. “We’ve been engaging with local and national consulting firms for most of the year to really find a place to align long-term planning with the destination and the hospitality industry.”

The funds come from Vancouver’s lodging tax — a 4 percent tax on overnight stays in Clark County hotels, half of which goes toward tourism and marketing efforts. The remaining half is helping pay the debt of the Vancouver Convention Center. The Vancouver City Council approved the funds on Feb. 27.

Myers said the tourism master plan should be complete by late April. In 2022, Visit Vancouver also received $700,000 from the city, some of which went to creating the plan.

“We’ll get a lot of very actionable work out of that plan once it’s vetted and approved, and that’s coming here shortly, and it’s the first ever,” he said. “This year, we would be using a portion of the funds to activate the initiatives and goals of the plan.”

Visit Vancouver also receives funding from a tourism promotion area fee, which charges all Vancouver hotel guests $2 per night. In 2021, the organization collected $1.07 million from this promotion fee.

“It is extremely important for the city to invest lodging tax revenue in tourism right now because Vancouver is emerging as a visitor destination,” said Teresa Brum, deputy director of economic development for the city.

Most of the organization’s funds goes toward sales and marketing programs, Myers said.

According to Myers, the city’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee has made it easier to receive funding since it created two categories for requests. The first category — which includes Visit Vancouver — supports comprehensive marketing and advertising programs, while the other generally supports nonprofit events, such as the Great River Arts Festival, Summer Fest, and the Columbia River and Girlfriends Triathlon Festival.

Myers said hotels in the area that struggled at the height of the pandemic will hopefully soon see an influx of tourism and money in the area.

“The market is pretty resilient at the moment,” he said. “We’ve had a really productive couple of years in terms of how this destination has fared through a lot of global uncertainty.”

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Columbian staff writer