Come and ... Tax it?

This beloved Texas city will be more expensive to visit in 2019

This beloved Texas city will be more expensive to visit in 2019

Downtown San Antonio seen from La Vista Terrace
The new tax will help San Antonio's marketing efforts.  Courtesy/San Antonio Hotel and Lodging Association

Starting January 1, 2019, San Antonio will be more expensive to visitors who stay in hotels overnight. Participating hotels in downtown and elsewhere around the city will levy a new fee calculated at 1.25 percent of the room rate for each guest in the new year.

The fee, which takes effect at the stroke of January 1, will be assessed on a nightly basis on people staying in hotels that have 100 or more rooms. (The fee is in addition to the 16.75 percent occupancy tax that guests pay at such large hotels.) 

The money generated will go to Visit San Antonio, the city’s independent convention and visitors organization, to expand marketing and advertising efforts of local hotels, restaurants, attractions, and more.

The number of tourists visiting the beloved Texas city continues to soar, and according to researchers at Trinity University, the city greeted 37 million visitors in 2017 — that’s 7.3 million more than 2015. Yet, leaders in the San Antonio hospitality industry have long worried whether they collectively have enough resources to better market San Antonio as a prime destination for tourists, convention-goers, and business people.

As major U.S. cities ramp up spending to promote their hospitality industries worldwide, San Antonio will now get some help in the form of a Tourism Public Improvement District, the creation of which San Antonio City Council approved in early December. Organizers behind the public improvement district say the new hotel fee could generate more than $10 million yearly based on an eight-year agreement.

Leaders from the local hospitality industry say Visit San Antonio’s budget of $25 million is too far behind the budgets of counterparts in Houston ($35 million) and Dallas ($37 million), and is more on par with the smaller Austin ($20 million).

Ultimately, the city wants to increase the number of people visiting or arranging meetings and events in San Antonio’s hotels, as well as the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Alamodome, and other gathering and recreation venues. Generating more revenue will allow them to do so, they say.

“The TPID will enable our industry to remain competitive in an increasingly challenging market, but will also allow us to grow and strengthen our market share,” Visit San Antonio Executive Director Casandra Matej and Liza Barratachea wrote in a statement.

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