Tourism: Facts, Assumptions, Myths

Terms

  • Fact. An event, item of information, or state of affairs existing, observed, or known to have happened, and which is confirmed or validated to such an extent that it is considered ‘reality.’
  • Assumption. A  thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.
  • Myth an unfounded or false notion.

Tourism 

  • The State of Indiana promotes tourism which generates revenue from sales taxes.
  • Economic impact studies commissioned by the State “estimate” that tourism can result in positive economic impacts.  These studies may not include any adverse effects from tourism that include the impact on local culture, crime, congestion, increased infrastructure costs, etc.
  • Andy Rogers – Vision for a right balance of tourism within Brown County
    • People say, ‘Well, we can’t change.’ But we can change and still retain some of the flavor of Brown County. We need people to live here. I’m in the tourist business but we don’t want to turn this town over to the tourists. You can go to Gatlinburg if you want to see what happens to a town that turns it all over to business. It’s not a town anymore—it’s a shopping center. We need people here. This town needs to be alive.” 
    • “We don’t need to be slick and highly commercial. We need to be more country. Country is what we sell…. We need to maintain that. Once you destroy that, it won’t come back.” 
    • County tax policy is high income (5th highest in the State) and low property. You lose “country”, and you most likely lose residents which shifts the tax burden on to fewer people.
  • Validation of the assumptions supporting estimates as to economic impact would be reflected in revenue from income and property taxes.
  • Average employee wages in tourism are among the lowest of all the industries in the county and region.
  • The State allows Brown County to collect a 5% innkeeper’s tax that has to be used to promote more tourism.
  • A five-member Convention Visitors Commission (CVC) is established to manage the revenue from the innkeeper’s tax.  The CVC budget has to be reviewed and approved by the county council.  The CVC contracts with the Convention Visitors Burea (CVB) to manage the funds.
  • Three of the five members of the CVC must be innkeepers.  Justification – Innkeepers collect the tax and would favor promotions that may lead to more overnight stays.
  • Owners of tourism establishments benefit from investments of the revenue from the innkeeper’s tax through sales and increases in the asset values of their establishments.
  • The county is funded primary bu income and property tax.  The county collects no income taxes if owners and employees live outside the county.
  • Commercial properties including tourism business in Brown County, may not be experiencing the annual increases in property taxes that are being experienced by residential property owners.  A contributing factor is that the sales of commercial properties are not at the volume where an increase in market value can be established.
  • County citizens and taxpayers pick up the inconvenience and infrastructure costs associated with more visitors to include congestion, roads, police and emergency services.
  • We will always have tourism that may be considered an asset for Nashville but can be a liability for the county (see Andy Rogers vision for tourism).

Additional Information: 

  • County Government (includes schools) is the largest “industry” and single employer in the County.
  • Future of Local Economy – Includes articles and independent results from studies
  • United Way –  ALICE Brown County Report Information on households that earn more than the federal poverty level but less than the basic cost of living for the county. Nashville at 54% has the highest score compared to the townships and conservancy.

 

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