‘Visit Syracuse’ hopes to bring more conventions to town with money made by increased hotel tax

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Assemblyman Al Stirpe suggests that if Onondaga County leaders want to raise the room occupancy tax, then the state will support it.

Thursday, the Onondaga County Legislature passed a memorializing resolution to ask New York State leaders to approve an increase in the hotel tax from 5% to 7%, which is projected to raise $2.5 million in new revenue.

Leaders behind the plan don’t think the increase will dissuade potential customers from booking a room. In fact, they hope to bring more people in.

The plan is to spend the money to promote tourism in the Central New York region and areas beyond.

Visit Syracuse, the official tourism agency of Onondaga County, would use the money it makes from the increased tax, to compete for more convention business.

Conventions bring hundreds of thousands of people to Syracuse, who fill hotels and spend millions at local restaurants and entertainment venues.

Visit Syracuse representatives travel the country, pitching the region to event planners and competing against cities like Rochester and Buffalo.

Some communities, like Binghamton, have enough of a tourism budget to offer monetary bonuses to convention organizations for them to commit, hoping each dollar spent brings even more back.

Visit Syracuse plans to do the same, if the funding from the hotel tax is increased.

Now that the Onondaga County Legislature has passed the first step, the ultimate decision is up to the state government.

A spokesperson for Governor Andrew Cuomo says it’s too early for the governor to comment.

Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli writes: “The county administration has not discussed this proposal with my office as yet. We are open to reviewing it, along with other county requests, once e have more information on them.”

State Senator Rachel May writes: “Onondaga County and the Town of DeWitt are both in favor of increasing the Room Occupancy Tax. In Albany, it is my job to help our local governments enact laws that they believe will be beneficial. I look forward to conversations with the county on ways the additional revenue can be used to benefit arts, culture, and tourism in our region.” 

Assemblyman Al Stirpe writes: “While state legislative approval is needed for home-rule requests, we generally try not to stand in the way of what a locality wants to do, unless there is a compelling state reason. So, if the Onondaga County Legislature and the County Executive want to raise this local tax, the state legislature will most likely give them permission to do so.”

For more local news, follow Andrew Donovan on Twitter @AndrewDonovan

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