Lewis and Clark celebration will draw the educated, upscale travelerThe Astoria City Council is wisely opposing the bill that would create a statewide lodging tax to fund tourism efforts. This troublesome legislation would pre-empt communities from raising other lodging tax revenue unless it is spent on tourism.
Astoria is not alone in using its lodging tax revenues to pay for general municipal services. Since 1990, when Measure 5 limited the property tax, cities across Oregon have scrapped to find ways to pay for services that residents deem to be essential, such as police and fire.
State Rep. Betsy Johnson has identified another troubling feature of this bill. It contains what appears to be statewide power of condemnation, which would be enormous license for an independent commission.
Behind the proposal for a statewide lodging tax is the assumption that if only Oregon advertised more nationally and did a few other things, we would boost the visitor count.
That may be true. But the most effective tourist magnet is to make our communities more attractive and appealing. That is especially so for the upscale traveler.
The Lewis and Clark Bicentennial will attract an educated traveler who has taken the trouble to learn the story. They will be coming to a community that is a real place, not a theme park. That will be very good for the Columbia-Pacific region.