On December 10th, East Baton Rouge Parish residents will be asked to vote on a 2% increase in our Hotel Occupancy Tax, a tax added to hotel guests' nightly room rates. The proceeds from this tax will produce an estimated $2.6 million each year, helping to strengthen our tourism industry and build upon it's impact throughout our community.
1. How will the Hotel Occupancy Tax and a stronger tourism industry improve our community's quality of life?
Through the help of the Hotel Occupancy Tax, tourism can have an increasingly positive influence on our community's quality of life:
It improves our local economy
Proceeds generated by the Hotel Occupancy Tax will help shift the burden of tourism-related expenses from the City-Parish annual budget, allowing our city to focus funds on other critical community needs like road projects, new sidewalks and police cars.
It attracts world-renowned entertainment
A stronger tourism industry allows Baton Rouge to better compete with other similarly-sized cities for entertainment opportunities. That means more sporting events, concerts, restaurants, conventions and more for you and your family to enjoy.
It expands our local industries
Baton Rouge visitors, including both professional and leisure travelers, spend over $875 million yearly – generating revenue for local business across a wide spectrum of industries.
It supports thousands of local jobs
With over 7,000 local jobs supported directly and indirectly through tourism in Baton Rouge, a stronger tourism industry and the new opportunities it will create will help strengthen job stability and create new job opportunities within our local industries.
2. Is this a new tax?
No, the proposition being voted on December 10th is a proposed 2% increase of the already-existent Hotel Occupancy Tax. See Question 5 for more information on how our tax rate, which is below the national average, compares to similar cities across the country.
3. Who does this tax affect?
One of the main benefits of this tax, is that it gives Baton Rouge residents the ability to enjoy the benefits of a thriving tourism economy at very little cost to them. The Hotel Occupancy Tax is primarily paid by visitors, given it only applies to hotel room rates – meaning our tourists are the ones primarily funding our tourism.
4. How will the proceeds from the Hotel Occupancy Tax improve our tourism industry?
The passage of this hotel occupancy tax measure would create new sources of funding for tourism related efforts – positioning Baton Rouge to more effectively compete for sporting events, headlining acts, and national conventions that have overlooked Baton Rouge in the past due to our inability to fully accommodate their needs.
These efforts would also include critical improvements to the Raising Cane's River Center, Baton Rouge's primary meeting, convention and in-door performance facility. The River Center, which is considered the anchor for entertainment and enrichment for the Capital Region, was built in 1977, and has had very few upgrades since. This measure would create a recurring revenue stream each year, paid mostly by out-of-town visitors, that would facilitate the upgrades and upkeep necessary for Baton Rouge to compete with other cities.
The funds generated by the Hotel Occupancy tax will also help to increase film and television productions through sustained investment in the Baton Rouge Film Commission.
5. How does our Hotel Occupancy Tax rate compare to the national average?
Hotel room and occupancy taxes are often allocated for tourism-related purposes, and this is true for a majority of cities across the U.S. The average room tax for cities comparable to Baton Rouge is 5%, compared to the 4% in Baton Rouge. In the past, we have been passed up by entertainment opportunities, events and conventions for other host cities – many of which have a higher occupancy tax and can, therefore, attract bigger and better events. An increase in our Hotel Occupancy Tax can help change that.
*At 4%, Baton Rouge’s Hotel Occupancy Tax rate is currently below the national average. Shreveport, as the map above indicates, has a 6% percent Hotel Occupancy Tax.
View Publisher Rolfe McCollister's endorsement, here.
View the Advocate Editorial piece regarding the Dec. 10 ballot, here.
View BRAC's Dec. 10 ballot recommendations, here.