VIDEO: Debate Over Recent Bill Sparks in South Jersey Tourism IndustryPosted:
MILLVILLE - A bill has been introduced into the Senate to help counties all across the state offset their property taxes.
Although this could help costs for residents, the state will be taking money from the tourism district. It could give county officials the opportunity to exercise a 1% county tax placed on hotels and motels.
“Everyone in Cape May County really does understand that tourism is the economic engine of our county," said Vicki Clark, President, Cape May County Chamber of Commerce. "To tax the industry that sends so many tax dollars to Trenton, and not put any of that money back into promoting travel and tourism in New Jersey, or in the counties that might exercise this option, I think it is disrespectful to the tourism industry.”
For counties like Cape May, the tourism industry helps bring in their revenue all year long. Visitors eat, sleep, and shop locally while residents get more opportunities for employment.
Clark says that New Jersey’s four coastal counties generate nearly half of the total tourism industry in the state.
“Travel and tourism is a revenue generator, it’s not an expense to the state of New Jersey, and certainly that’s how we feel here in Cape May County.," said Clark "Tourism industry has a 5% state occupancy tax already and then municipalities have the option of adding on up to three percent. This new bill gives counties the opportunity, if they want, to exercise a one percent county tax.”
An empty hotel is what many people in the tourism industry fear. If this bill is passed, Cape May County will have the option to include this 1% tax increase on top of all the other taxes the tourism industry is responsible for paying. Hotel managers fear that with all these other taxes and fees, visitors won’t want to come to the Jersey Shore.
“I do understand that there is a need for tax relief, there’s no one who I think would disagree with that, but I don’t feel that it is the responsibility of the tourism industry to offer that tax relief," said Susan Cawley, General Manager of Concord Suites. "So if you’re a guest and you’re staying at a hotel and you’re paying $300 per night, 1% is not a lot of money, if it was just the 1%. If it’s 1% on top of 7%, on top of 5%, on top of 2%, that really does add up.”
SNJ Today is a Southern New Jersey news and information source based in Millville, New Jersey that is dedicated to providing current stories related specifically to South Jersey.