USE OF LOCAL HOTEL OCCUPANCY TAX REVENUE
There is a two-part requirement that every expenditure of local hotel occupancy tax must meet to be valid.
Criteria #1: First, every expenditure must DIRECTLY enhance and promote tourism AND the convention and hotel industry.
Criteria #2: Every expenditure of the hotel occupancy tax must clearly fit into one of six statutorily provided categories for expenditure of local hotel occupancy tax revenues.
The six categories are, as follows:
- Funding the establishment, improvement or maintenance of a convention center or visitor information center.
- Paying the administrative costs for facilitating convention registration
- Paying for advertising solicitations and promotions that attract tourists and convention delegates to the city or its vicinity.
- Expenditures to promote the Arts (such expenditure must be likely to directly promote tourism and the hotel and convention industry.)
- Funding historical restoration or preservation programs (similar restriction here as with the arts.)
- Funding Costs in Certain Counties to Hold Sporting Events that Substantially Increase Hotel Activity.
The Amarillo Convention and Visitor Council as a hotel occupancy tax administrator for the City of Amarillo, sets the following criteria for every organization requesting use of HOT funds.
- Application must be presented on formal Amarillo CVC funding request form.
- Each application must include a marketing plan specifically explaining how the requested funds will be used. Applications without a marketing plan will not be considered.
Funding standards are as follows:
- A minimum of 50 room nights/night must be shown for any event or activity requesting HOT funding above $1,000.
- If the request is for a new event, the application must include a plan to measure room nights after the event.
- You must be a non-profit organization to qualify.
- Any event marketing plan showing only local promotions will not be considered.
- CVC funding assistance must be noted in any promotions, including programs, website, etc.
- CVC will be granted free access and use of all event photo’s.
- If requested, the CVC could have a presence at the event to promote the area (table in a lobby, etc.) A banner from the CVC would also be given for use at the event.
- Final income/expense statements must be received within one month of the event.
- Funding requests for personnel costs and/or operating expenses are not allowed by state law.
A unique opportunity for Amarillo may be funded without meeting all criteria in these guidelines.
There are some events that, by their very nature, help define the essence of Amarillo. Some of these events include WRCA, AQHA, etc. These events are exempt from the funding guidelines.
Additional Factors that should be considered concerning funding requests.
The primary factor involved with funding from the HOT funds is return on investment through the use of taxable lodging rooms in Amarillo.
In addition to the traditional concept of ROI, there are some other returns that should also be considered:
- Return on involvement (community volunteerism for event)
- Return on inspiration (does the event lift the morale of the community?)
- Return on imagination (a unrealized dream for Amarillo that may have low initial financial return, but has tremendous future potential)
- Return on image (will the outside world’s view of Amarillo be enhanced by our mere hosting of an event?)
So, in addition to lodging nights, we should also monitor:
- Composition of participants (who are they? Are they influencers?)
- Compatibility of the event with the image of Amarillo
- Media exposure
- Opportunity for growth
CVC support for an event may come in five different ways, or a combination of the five:
- Direct funding
- Underwriting the event to a specific amount (if the event is forecast to lose money. If it is forecast to make money, should tax dollars be part of the profit?)
- Support for event, however all marketing money committed remains with the CVC to reimburse to the appropriate vendor.
- Partnership (CVC receives a portion of revenue)
- In-kind support (publicity, advertising, materials, etc.)
Funding support recommended by the Arts Committee
The Arts Committee of the Amarillo Convention and Visitor Council, as part of their responsibilities, hears funding requests from area arts organizations.
All standards listed in the funding guidelines apply to arts requests. The key is that all funding awarded by the arts committee MUST be for marketing, not general operations.
In terms of any matching funds advertising programs, such a program must include an offer from an Amarillo lodging property or it will not be considered.
If there is ever any appeal requested concerning arts funding, these appeals will go directly to the CVC Board for consideration.