SCRANTON — Starting Thursday, staying at a hotel in Lackawanna County became a bit more expensive.
State lawmakers recently approved a tax hike on hotel rooms, a tax that hotel owners are actually happy about.
There are 35 hotels in Lackawanna County, a number that’s grown significantly in the past 10 years. Hotel officials said that growth is because of Lackawanna County’s growing tourism industry.
The new tax is meant to help that growth continue.
When you check out of a hotel in Lackawanna County, you’ll notice a bigger number under “taxes and fees” on your receipt. Now, 7% of your room charge, instead of the usual 4%.
“I think initially there will be some push-back, with state association groups, corporate groups, things like that. But, the transient guest who’s coming through the area, a lot of times they don’t even look at those taxes they just want to know what their room rate is,” said Lori Rupp from the Hilton Scranton and Conference Center.
Rupp is the chair for the Lackawanna County Hotel and Motel Association. She said many of the hotels in the county lobbied for the tax hike. The 7% tax is higher than most of the counties in our area. It’s more comparable to hotel taxes in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Hotel owners support the tax because of where the money is going.
“It’s very important that our Visitor’s Bureau knows how much money it has to spend, to sign up for events next year, critical events, to get business to come to the area,” said Lackawanna County Visitor’s Bureau Board member Michael Kearney.
Kearney is the general manager for the Radisson Lackawanna Station Hotel in Scranton. He also sits on the board for the County’s Visitor’s Bureau.
The Visitor’s Bureau will receive 40% of the money from the new hotel tax. The remaining 60% goes right to Lackawanna County.
In the long run, Kearney said the tax on customers will help hotels. The Visitor’s Bureau handles the marketing for all the hotels in the county, and he believes the bureau will use its share of the tax money to bring in more customers.
“It’s such an economic driver, people are going to take a vacation somewhere, people are going to conduct business somewhere, we need to make sure it’s here,” added Kearney.
Officials from Lackawanna County weren’t able to say how much money they anticipate the hotel tax will raise, but commissioners said they support the tax.