Statewide lodging tax increase the first since 2004

The increase will bring the lodging tax up to 1.8 percent, a 0.8 percent increase from the previous tax approved in 2004. (NBC 16 photo)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- A statewide tax increase went into effect Friday for all lodging rentals.

That means hotels, motels, and any place used for temporary overnight stays could cost visitors more.

The increase will bring the lodging tax up to 1.8 percent, a 0.8 percent increase from the previous tax approved in 2004.

Officials say this can even help the state with hosting the 2021 IAAF World Championships.

"I am very positive about this. I see only the benefit," says State Representative Nancy Nathanson.

She says the increased lodging tax will help support the state immediately.

"We were very careful in making sure this was affordable, that it wouldn't adversely impact the industry. But actually it was the industry that was promoting it."

The tax will stand at 1.8 percent for four years and will then drop to 1.5 percent from then on.

"In some cases it's like eighty-six cents difference," says Nathanson. "Eighty-six cents is not going to make someone decide not to visit Oregon."

Nathanson says the tax increase is expected to raise nearly $30 million over the next two years.

Travel Lane County VP of Stakeholder Relations Andy Vobora says businesses expressed their thoughts on the tax at their board meetings.

"The hotels really have a mixed reaction," says Vobora. "People always think it's really easy for a business just to pass it along. And we as consumers are going to absorb that. But I think a lot of them are sensitive and don't really want to just pass it along. They want to be competitive in the marketplace."

"This is an investment in Oregon's future," says Todd Davidson, Travel Lane Oregon CEO.

He says three quarters of the money coming in to the state will be from out-of-state tourists.

He says this helps with advertising Oregon internationally and domestically.

"We're excited about what this opportunity really holds for Oregon because the travel and tourism industry has grown in importance for the state. It is a primary driver of the state's economy."

Nathonson says since the lodging tax was implemented, the state has seen a huge increase in international visitors, and they expect even more people to be drawn to Oregon with money spent to promote Oregon even further.

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