Update: Tuesday morning
Wichita City Council votes in new hotel tax to generate new money to market Wichita events and attractions. Vote was 7-0.
Tax would add 2.75% to room rate at hotels with 50 rooms or more. New tax would start in 2015. Expects to generate about $2.5 million each year for marketing.
Other cities are promoting themselves in Wichita, now Wichita leaders want to get in the game.
"I think a lot of us get tired of seeing other city's commercials when we are sitting down at night, right?," said Go Wichita President Susie Santo.
But Santo says Go Wichita need more money to afford a new marketing campaign. That's why city leaders are considering a new hotel tax to foot the bill.
The average hotel room in Wichita costs about 80 bucks. The proposed tax would add an extra $2.20 to that bill, which is an extra 2.75.
Collectively supporters say the new money would go a long way to attract more visitors to Wichita.
When locals drive around town, they know where to go to find great restaurants, live entertainment and interesting events. But visitors don't.
Go Wichita wants to change that.
"If we are doing it right, you are really not going to see it because we are marketing outside of the district to bring people in," Santo said. "Both from a convention perspective to a leisure prospective."
The problem , Wichita city leaders know they can't afford that type of campaign through the general fund.
"We have really squeezed that down so much, there aren't any marketing dollars in there," said Wichita City Council member Jeff Longwell.
That's why supporters are asking for a new hotel tax, which they say could bring in at least $2.5 million to help promote Wichita outside of Wichita
"This gives our opportunity to get our message out and let Western Kansas and into Oklahoma see about Wichita when they sit down and watch television each night," Santo added.
Hotel owners support the move, in fact they brought the idea to city leaders as a way to help educate visitors.
"One of the issues for anyone traveling is where would they go to dinner, rent a car, what activities are there here," said TMH Hotels Executive Matt Dolan.
Dolan knows hotels in other cities already have a similar tax, so he and others think it's time for Wichita to get in the game as well.
American's for Prosperity was one group that spoke out against the hotel tax because it says it won't just be out-of-towners paying the price.
Locals will charged the extra two bucks too, if their business clients or family stay in town. We don't know yet if that message had an impact on city leaders.
Wichita City Council members could vote on the new hotel tax as early as next week. If they approve it, it would start in 2015.