Wyoming statewide lodging tax bill advances

Associated Press

A proposed statewide lodging tax that would fund state tourism promotion efforts cleared a Senate committee on Tuesday.

The Senate Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee voted 3-1, with one member declaring a conflict, to advance House Bill 66. The bill likely will be referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee before it is considered by the full Senate. The bill has already passed the House of Representatives.

The proposal is a reworked version of a bill that failed in the Legislature last year. Both proposals have the similar goal of providing a dedicated source of money for the state tourism office. The office’s annual budget of about $12.5 million is currently supplied by the general fund, which is subject to fluctuations in state revenue.

“Why would you not be in favor of putting something out there that’s mostly paid by out-of-state people anyway and you’re going to take care of the situation where we have money problems with the department of tourism?” Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, said in testimony to the Senate committee.


Currently, the state does not impose a lodging tax. Individual counties can impose a lodging tax, subject to voter approval.

Under the new proposal, a 5 percent statewide lodging tax would be imposed, with the state and counties sharing the estimated $32 million a year in new revenue. Individual counties would be able to still levy up to 2 percent in additional lodging taxes if voters approve.

Proponents say the proposal will help Wyoming compete with neighboring states that currently spend more on tourism promotion.

Wyoming ranks 31st in the nation in tourism marketing spending, state tourism executive director Diane Shober said. South Dakota, Colorado, Utah and Montana all spend more than Wyoming to attract potential tourists, she said.


Visitors to the state spent $3.8 billion last year, generating $195 million in local and state tax revenue and accounting for about 32,000 jobs in Wyoming, Shober said.

The committee heard from nearly a dozen witnesses who supported the bill and from one opponent who testified the proposal would only grow state government.

Before approving the measure, the committee voted to recommend that outfitters and guides be exempted from the proposed lodging tax.

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