Hotel tax can help drive DuPage economy
In my 30-plus years in hospitality throughout the country, the magnitude of tourism as an economic driver was never questioned -- a visitor coming to a destination to spend money and then leaving is what every community wants. I am shocked to see so much debate about a countywide hotel occupancy tax for tourism and economic development.
DuPage hosts everything from conventions, to national religious conferences to U.S.A. Weightlifting National Championships coming prior to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, generating billions of dollars in visitor spending each year. These events do not just appear. Sales activities and promotion are the root of our success. When the competition heats up, we need to do the same.
The Lombard Chamber of Commerce, of which I am an active member, recognizes how visitors benefit our businesses. I've never heard of local businesses being hurt because there's more tourism.
The human part of this discussion are the people employed in this industry. Positions span from entry-level to upper management, with room for advancement. There are 23,000 chefs, housekeepers, bartenders, engineers, maintenance workers, banquet services and managers such as myself who depend on people visiting and leaving their dollars to stay employed.
When the hotels are full, people shop at Target, eat at restaurants and breweries and support attractions. A thriving tourism industry benefits both our visitors and our residents, and even businesses who want to locate to DuPage County.
In other states, it was easy to understand the concept that more visitors mean more dollars. Our competitors reinvest 80% of hotel tax dollars into tourism, in comparison to the less than 5% in DuPage County.
Why is DuPage County different? Let's build a consensus around tourism so we're not.