Talking tourism in Bend is notoriously volatile. Tourism brings in bucks, providing indisputable economic benefits. It’s a compliment to the area that people want to visit.
But just try balancing that with the traffic and the other impacts on the community. Arguably tourism also feeds into making a fast-growing Bend grow faster.
And that divide in opinion also manifests itself in decisions on the Bend City Council. The city of Bend adopted an ordinance in 2017, reducing the percentage of the city’s room tax revenue that went to tourism. The city thought going from 35.4% to 31.2% was permitted under state law. Bend city councilors had other things in mind for those dollars.
The city was not certain it would be able to do what it wanted with the dollars, so it held on to the money — some $2.7 million. Sure enough, there was a legal challenge. The Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association and two local hotel owners challenged the city’s ordinance in court. The city lost.
So on Wednesday the Bend City Council is scheduled to vote on changing its ordinance. If the city wants to allocate fewer of these dollars to tourism, it’s going to need to get legislators to change the state law.
Should the state even dictate how much of these room taxes go to tourism? Or should that be in the control of local governments? Tell councilors what you think at email@example.com.