Connecticut is looking to increase the overall financial impact of its tourism sector, in part by increasing the percentage of hotel room occupancy tax revenue that it receives.
That is one of the recommendations made in a report delivered yesterday by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Tourism, led by House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz. The 15-member group advocates increasing hotel occupancy tax revenue that is diverted to the Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund from 10 percent to 25 percent; 60 percent of that total would go towards supporting tourism with the remainder supporting arts and culture.
As for the tax itself — which is set to go from 15 percent to 17 percent in the next fiscal year – the panel recommended no additional increase.
Tourism in the state currently contributes $14.7 billion in business sales, generates $1.7 billion in tax revenues and supports nearly 83,000 direct jobs and 121,000 indirect jobs.
The panel also recommended a review of the state’s marketing, including the replacement of its “Still Revolutionary” branding; the appointment of a commissioner who would report directly to Gov. Ned Lamont; open and staff its five highway Welcome Centers on a 24/7 basis; and add www.CTVisit.com to all license plates.
Donald DeVivo, the panel’s chairman, testified at a March 12 public hearing on behalf of a pair of tourism-related bills: H.B. 7307, which would require the state Commerce Committee to conduct a study of tourism and its effects on the state, and H.B. 7306, which would require Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner-elect David Lehman to implement the panel’s recommendations and submit a report on the plan.
Both of those items would be due by Feb. 1, 2020.