May 10, 2013

Dalton, Whitfield hotel tax revenues continue to climb

Charles Oliver

— Dalton and Whitfield County collected a record $1.3 million in hotel/motel taxes in 2012, up about $100,000 from 2011. This marks the third straight year hotel/motel tax collections have set a record.

“Keep in mind that before that, 2002 was the last year we set a record. It took us eight years to set a new record,” Dalton Mayor David Pennington said. “But now we are growing faster than the nation as a whole.”

Brett Huske, executive director of the Dalton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), presented checks symbolizing that money to city and county officials on Thursday at the CVB’s headquarters in the Freight Depot downtown.

Most of the area’s hotels are inside Dalton city limits, so the city collects the bulk of hotel/motel tax. The city received $1.1 million in hotel/motel taxes in 2011, while the county received $224,000. The money can only be used for tourism-related initiatives.

In addition to the hotel/motel taxes, Huske said travel and tourism in Whitfield County generated about $5.58 million in state taxes and about $4.18 million in local taxes. Travelers and visitors spent an estimated $148.81 million in Whitfield County in 2012 and helped support 1,480 jobs, he said.

Huske pointed to a number of multi-day sports events that helped bring in thousands of people to the community in 2012, such as the Softball Players Association tournaments, the National Collegiate Wrestling Association national championships, the Special Olympics fall state games and the Georgia Police and Fire Games.

He also said the trade center hosted a number of conferences and events that brought people in. He said the CVB and the Dalton Civil War 150th Committee teamed up on events that brought in people interested in the Civil War, such as a bus tour of sites related to the Great Locomotive Chase.

Huske, who also became director of the trade center at the start of 2013, said the CVB and trade center plan to build on its recent successes.

“Right now, our weakest link is the weekdays. Weekends are pretty strong for us,” he said. “What we will be working together to do is to bring in more conventions, more corporate meetings during the week. Those people will certainly stay in our hotel rooms, eat in our restaurants and hopefully spend money in some of our shops.”