Tulsa Hotel Owners Say Part Of Proposed House Bill Could Kill Business
TULSA, Oklahoma - A group of Tulsans went to the capitol Wednesday to get the attention of lawmakers because they're concerned about a portion of the House bill that would help fund teacher pay.
Those who are involved in hospitality and tourism say the proposed tax increase for room rentals in Oklahoma would cripple their industry.
A group of Tulsans traveled to the capitol to send a message to lawmakers. They say a five dollar increase in lodging tax will have a devastating impact on Tulsa tourism and hospitality industries. One example is conventions.
"Conventioneers look at the total package when booking a convention and adding five dollars per room per night for potentially hundreds of attendees is a huge cost,” said Michelle Hartman with the Metro Tulsa Hotel and Lodging Association.
The association said this tax would make Tulsa and Oklahoma City’s lodging rates higher than New York City.
That, they believe, will turn guests and their wallets away from Oklahoma.
"All those people that come in and flood our cities with money. We are afraid we won't be able to attract those pieces of business anymore if this goes through," said Hartman.
A House fiscal analysis shows this $5-a-day increase for hotel and motel rentals could bring in around $50 million a year.
But hotel owners claim, in the end, it will only hurt Oklahoma and help neighboring states.
"They are eyeing Oklahoma and they are hoping that they pass this tax because they will be pounding upon these conventions and stuff like that because they want this business so badly,” said Motel Owner Rex Trivedi.
They say opposing this tax increase in no way means they don't support a pay raise for teachers.
“We would just like the $5 to be removed from this bill and find another funding source that makes more sense for Oklahoma,” Hartman said.
The House is expected to mirror the Senate vote and changes in the morning.