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New tax could promote tourism

Kitsap County is investigating the development of a Tourism Promotion Area to bring in visitors.

The county would establish the TPA as a taxing district. Hotels located within the district would assess a fee of perhaps $2 per room per night for the new fund. It could contribute $700,000 a year to local tourism-promotion coffers.

“While this is an involved process, it’s a good way to fund destination marketing,” said Kitsap Peninsula Visitors and Convention Bureau Director Executive Director Grant Griffin. “It will have a significant impact on our budget.”

This won’t happen right away, since the county’s authority only extends over unincorporated areas. Since a majority of Kitsap hotel rooms lie within municipal areas, the four cities would have to buy in to raise the full amount.

The initial TPA presentation to the county commissioners on Monday included representatives of two large Silverdale Hotels – the Silverdale Beach and Oxford Suites – to show their support.

Griffin said he had tacit support from hotels on Bainbridge Island and in Poulsbo. Eventually, he hopes to convince the managers of the Suquamish Clearwater Casino of the proposal’s value.

Also speaking on the proposal’s behalf was Clark County Economic Development Director Kelly Sills, who helped administer a TPA program in southern Washington.

“You get a lot of bang for the buck,” Sills said. “It can help your economic pie grow dramatically.”

Griffin said he hopes the TPA will not affect his agency’s share of the local lodging tax, which is about $200,000 a year.

“The lodging tax doesn’t give us enough to work with,” he said. “Allowing for inflation, we are now expected to perform the same functions with less money.”

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