Tourism business leaders want change in Pa. hotel tax structure, spending

     Ben Franklin Hotel, Philadelphia (Kim Paynter/ NewsWorks Photo, file)

    Ben Franklin Hotel, Philadelphia (Kim Paynter/ NewsWorks Photo, file)

    A Pennsylvania tourism industry group is asking lawmakers to consider tightening the rules on how funds from county-level hotel room taxes are used.

    If the only sure things are death and taxes, hoteliers want a bit more certainty that the tax they remit to counties helps promote their industry.

    Rob Fulton, head of the Pennsylvania Association of Travel and Tourism, says the original intent of county-level taxes on hotel room stays was to fund the promotion of local tourism.

    But he says some counties have been using the revenue for other purposes.

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    “If all the monies at the local level went back to tourism and marketing promotion, I think we’d be fine with that,” he said. “We wouldn’t be as concerned about the rates.”

    Fulton says some counties have been known to use the revenue to pay for tangentially related expenses — such as road paving and bonds on convention centers.

    Lawmakers are considering changes to the patchwork of laws governing county hotel room levies.

    The state’s hotel tax is a flat 6 percent, but 14 different laws allow additional local room taxes in all but a few counties.

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