Increased Tax Support for Travel Portland

Fri, March 05, 2021 10:15 AM | Jill Palamountain (Administrator)

Submitted by Jaime Johnston, H2H Member & owner of Goddamn Man Co, premium products for body & beard care. 

Travel Portland is a cheerleader for Portland’s tourism industry. Their mission - to generate travel impact that drives economic impact - has put Portland on the map as a travel destination. As a result, increased tourism has expanded the short term rental industry, contributed to job growth, and boosted visitor spending at local businesses and restaurants. 

The Travel Improvement District (TID) fund accounts for about half of Travel Portland’s budget.  All hotels pay this 2% tax and STR’s were added in 2018.  No surprise to anyone, since the beginning of the pandemic, overall hotel and STR bookings have caved, depressing tourism tax revenues by millions of dollars. Hotel bookings are down by roughly 75%, with downtown being hardest hit. 

Further, Portland’s reputation has been tarnished by media coverage of federal police presence during Black Lives Matter events. Damage and violence have made Portland feel unsafe making it difficult to continue driving much-needed tourism to Portland. 

Clearly, we all benefit from Travel Portland’s efforts. Yet, they have lost significant revenue and had to lay off 80% of their staff during the pandemic. 

In response, Travel Portland presented a funding proposal to the City Council during a  March 3rd hearing. To address the budget shortfall, their proposal included making permanent the 2% TID, set to expire this year; and increasing the TID from 2% to 3% for five years. As always, this tax is to be paid by hotel and STR guests. 

The Council was unanimously supportive of making the 2% TID permanent (watch the hearing beginning at 22 minutes) and is set to vote on the 5 year increase from 2% to 3% next week. UPDATE: On March 10 Portland City Council voted in the additional 1% increase for a 5 year period. The increase takes effect July 2021.

Travel Portland presented its proposal to the Host2Host board on February 16, requesting Host2Host’s support. The H2H board was unanimous in supporting this proposal to ensure that Portland attracts a healthy level of tourism, which benefits our city, the local economy, all who serve the tourist industry and our members. 

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