Austin hotel tax keeps visitors coming back
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Scott Burroughs, like many of the thousands who visited Austin the past two weeks, enjoyed his stay in the Red River District.
“You get to really get a sense of Austin, have some fun, listen to some music, eat some breakfast tacos,” said Burroughs, who flew in from California for the music portion of South by Southwest.
It’s good visitors are enjoying the improved downtown neighborhood – because they’re paying for it.
Austin hotel taxes increased close to 7 percent from 2011 to 2012, as more people flock to the city to do business and to have fun.
Austin’s hotel guests are picking up the tab for improvement projects across Austin, helping tourism pay for itself.
The Red River District is the focus of a multi-year project to control Waller Creek. Years of erosion have SXSW staples like Stubb's Bar-B-Q on the edge of the creek bank.
Waller Creek swells every time it rains, bringing with it debris that gets caught along the banks. The tunnel project is designed to divert most of the water, so development along the creek can continue.
Ed Van Eenoo, Austin deputy chief financial officer, says a $100 room generates $15 in taxes, $9 of which goes to the city.
"That's more dollars to help pay off the debt service on our convention center or to do additional expansions," Eenoo said.
That’s makes Austin more competitive with other cities, to keep visitors coming back.