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I worked for the Lebanon Tourist and Convention Commission for five years and have been with the tourism industry for almost six. I cannot express enough what a tragedy this would be if this tax and the office were taken away. I have seen firsthand all the wonderful things tourism has done for Lebanon and proud to say I was a part of it.
If you eliminate the restaurant tax you also are eliminating Lebanon’s coverage in state brochures and magazines. The tourism office does so much work to have Lebanon featured in state guides, regional publications and websites. Many events have also received the KTIA “Top 10” award, thanks to the tourism office. You would also lose the thousands of state dollars that Lebanon collects every year from the Tourism Marketing Incentive Program.
Not only has the tax brought in countless events but it has done so much for many city projects, for example; Centre Square projects, the Gorley Trail/Fagan Branch Reservoir, disc golf course and downtown beautification projects, to name a few. Many of the events that have taken place since the tax was established will not survive, not just because they have no financial support from the commission but they will also receive no advertising. Most of these events are non-profit and the organizers work on the side with no financial gain for themselves. Many other events that may have been interested in coming to Lebanon or starting up will not now. Even if they would still receive some grant funding from the hotel tax most organizers of these events would not know where or how to place advertising. I’m sure the event organizers would agree that without the support of the tourism office they would have never been able to succeed or would have taken their event elsewhere. There will be no more work on the state brown sign program directing visitors to attractions or the John Hunt Morgan sign program. The tourism office also has an email newsletter and Facebook page that would cease to exist because there would be no one in the office to update or create them.
I can’t emphasize enough what a mistake and determent this would be to the community if this tax is repealed. I urge the city council to reconsider their decision and please DO NOT allow this to happen