Williamsburg raising taxes to generate more tourism

13News Now Robert Boyd has more on the development of the tourism fund.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WVEC) -- The cost of a night out to eat or a hotel stay will soon be going up in Williamsburg. On Thursday, the city voted to raise taxes in order to create a new Tourism Development Fund.

"It provides us an opportunity for us to reinvest in the city at a much faster pace than what we have been investing previously,” said city councilwoman Barbara Ramsey.

In order to create the Tourism Development Fund, the city will raise the lodging tax by one percent, the meal tax by one-and-a-half percent and create a new admissions tax of three-and-a-half percent.

"All of the taxes are very minimal and would not to be a burden on anyone,” said Ramsey.

The new revenue is expected generate an extra $3.2 million dollars a year to promote tourism.

"So we can do projects that have been on the books for many years, do new things, respond to travel trends, provide new experiences that visitors want,” said Ramsey.

City officials say Colonial Williamsburg has been the city's most visited attraction for decades. According to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation they had 1.3 million visitors in 1976.

However, 40 years later, attendance has dropped to under 600,000 people.

Resident Craig Minton has lived in Williamsburg since 1999. He said they must find ways to compete with their neighboring cities for those tourist dollars.

"We need to promote Williamsburg. There is a lot to offer and the more we can do to get the word out, the more tourists will come and, in the end, the residents win," said Minton.

Some businesses are worried. Why would people vacation in a place where you have to pay more for dinner or a hotel room?

“Less business is my main concern because if the prices are going up then people will start coming less and stuff like that,” said Jerry Stiles, manager of Retros Good Eats.

The Tourism Development Fund is set to take effect in July 2018.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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