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Sacramento Considering Higher Tourist Tax

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The logic sounds good: Attract more tourists to Sacramento and raise more money for the region. That’s the idea behind a new multi-million dollar campaign, but it comes with a price.

Right now, tourists staying in Sacramento hotels pay a flat rate of $1.50 in tourism tax, but soon that could all change.

Every year about 15 million tourists come to Sacramento for all it has to offer.

“There’s a great performing arts programs in this city. Midtown is a great destination. Downtown is a great destination,” Hyatt Regency General Manager Scott Vandenberg said.

And now the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau is pushing to charge a higher tourist tax for people staying in area hotels.

“It depends on your proximity to the convention center,” Michael Testa of the visitors bureau said. “So if you’re staying in one of the downtown hotels, it will be 3 percent of your room bill. If you’re staying in one of the outlining areas, it’s 2 percent and 2.5 percent. So it really depends on where you’re staying”

It’s a change that would bring in $5 million a year, double the money of the tax in effect now. That means more money to attract more business to Sacramento.

“We use this for marketing purposes to go after larger conventions, to go after tour operators that will bring groups to Sacramento,” Testa said.

Hyatt’s Vandenberg supports the idea.

“We’re in favor of it because it really is going to be a nice influx of money that we can use as a community,” he said.

But some citizens fear it will drive people away.

“It costs a lot of money for rooms,” one said.

“You would think they would keep it the same, so they would have more tourists come in and want to spend more money in your town,” another said.

But this tourist tax is designed to mirror what other cities in California are already doing.

“Let’s say it drive somebody away from Sacramento, they’d go to San Francisco and see the exact same charge,” Testa said.

The tourist tax will be addressed at Tuesday’s City Council meeting and could go into effect July 1.

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