Lodging tax receipts up on Peninsula, especially in Port Angeles

The city has seen a 24 percent increase in lodging taxes collected from January through August compared to 2015, recording $320,520 in revenue.

PORT ANGELES — The sun is shining on the North Olympic Peninsula’s lodging industry, training its light in particular on Port Angeles, officials said.

According to a presentation Tuesday to the city Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, Port Angeles has seen a 24 percent increase in lodging taxes collected from January through August compared to 2015, recording $320,520 in revenue — an increase more than double Port Townsend’s 11 percent compared to the same period.

The total for Port Angeles compares to $262,666 the city collected during the same period in 2015, according to figures supplied to the city and the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau from the state Department of Revenue.

Totals for Clallam and Jefferson counties were presented to the Port Angeles Lodging Tax Committee at its meeting Tuesday.

They cover lodging taxes generated in nights spent in lodging establishments from November 2015 through June 2016 because of two-month lag times in reporting, Community and Economic Development Director Nathan West said.

Increases also were seen in unincorporated Clallam and Jefferson counties, Sequim, Forks and Port Townsend during the same January-August 2016 collection periods compared to January-August 2015.

Here they are:

• Unincorporated Clallam County: $307,535 in 2016 compared to $249,599 in 2015, a 23 percent increase.

• Sequim: $145,679 in 2016 compared to $132,265 in 2015, a 10 percent increase.

• Forks: $80,778 in 2016 compared to $67,372 in 2015, a 20 percent increase.

• Unincorporated Jefferson County: $250,320 in 2016 compared to $207,620 in 2015, a 20.6 percent increase.

• Port Townsend: $254,671 in 2016 compared to $229,694 in 2015, an 10.9 percent increase.

Teresa Verraes, executive director of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, said Tuesday the Port Townsend lodging industry might be feeling the growing impact of Airbnb accommodations in the unincorporated county.

Accommodations in Port Townsend are consistently sold out, Verraes said, adding that regulations also are restrictive in the city.

“We have a different, unique makeup for our room nights, and rules and regulations,” she said.

“Tourism is not down.

“We are having a stellar year this year.”

Data on the increases for Port Angeles were presented to the lodging tax committee during a meeting that included a presentation on January-June Port Angeles lodging tax collections by Vertigo Marketing that covered November 2015-April 2016 actual room nights spent in the city.

They reflected similar upward trends in lodging tax collections — a 34 percent hike for the same time period compared with the same period a year earlier.

The Bend, Ore., company, which is under a $199,863 tourism marketing contract with the city for 2016, also was scheduled to give a presentation at the council’s regular meeting Tuesday night.

“It’s very encouraging,” Deputy Mayor Cherie Kidd, the committee chair, said during brief comments following the presentation.

“We are having a great year.

“I’ve just noticed everyone is exceptionally busy.

“Vertigo came along at the right time.”

The lodging tax totals are based on revenues from the 2 percent state tax on lodging.

“The city of Port Angeles and Clallam County are far outpacing their neighbors in room tax revenue percentages,” according to Vertigo’s report.

Traffic also increased at the Visitor Center on Railroad Avenue run by the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“After essentially penalizing themselves by switching to more accurate counting methods, Visitor Center traffic outpaced last June by almost 10 percent despite poor weather during the month,” according to the report.

Vertigo’s ad campaign will reach more than 22 million potential visitors, the report said.

Robert Utz, a lodging tax committee member and general manager of the Red Lion Hotel in Port Angeles, said the Red Lion is having a good year but declined to provide specific numbers.

“I was pleased and surprised that the [lodging] tax increase was 24 percent” overall for the city, he said, attributing it in part to Vertigo’s marketing efforts and the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

Vicki Heckman, also a committee member and owner of Sound Bikes &Kayaks, said business improves every year but that growth has not equaled that seen in the lodging industry.

“We are sustainably busy and significantly so through the majority of the year,” Heckman said.

“We are in a business that is not necessarily tourist-based.

“Year-round, our community is what makes this store work.”

Marsha Massey, executive director of the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau, said that throughout the past two years, Clallam and Jefferson counties have seen an upward spike in visitors from Seattle and abroad.

“It’s been an outstanding summer,” Massey added.


Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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