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Tourists bring millions of dollars in tax revenue to our City, and they also have a major impact on City operations and resources, as well as our economy as a whole. How should we best manage the tax dollars generated by tourism to benefit our community?

Austin welcomes thousands of tourists each year, and those tourists pump significant amounts of tax dollars directly into City coffers. Those tourists also have a significant impact on City resources. We're trying to determine the right ways to invest tax money contributed by tourists back into the City. The Visitor Impact Task Force (appointed by the Austin City Council) is currently meeting (through the spring) to discuss how the City of Austin should use hotel occupancy tax funds paid by tourists. The task force will make recommendations to the City Council about how to best utilize all hotel occupancy revenue to impact tourism by May 31, 2017. This feedback could greatly influence their recommendations. 

 Join us to discuss this timely topic as the Austin City Council considers the budget for the coming year.

In what ways can tourism and tourists help improve your life as an Austinite? 

20 Responses

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Seth Goodman 2 months ago

Tourists make Austin come alive. They contribute to our street life and spend money in our local stores and restaurants. Tourists are at their best when they are out and about walking, biking, and exploring Austin and all it has to offer.

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Coapublic Information admin 2 months ago

Thanks for your comments, Seth! -Moderator

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camille smith 2 months ago

Service industry workers typically benefit from tourists during big events like ACL or SXSW but this year many servers etc. did not make the same amount they have in previous years, I think this has to do with over saturation. Additionally, there was more violence than in previous years. These events, in my opinion are out of control and the benefit does not outweigh the cost

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Coapublic Information admin 2 months ago

Thanks for those comments, Camille! Any suggestions about how the City might leverage hotel occupancy tax dollars to address these issues? -Moderator

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Dick Ryan 2 months ago

It's fun meeting tourists and sharing our music, film, art and other cultural events with them. I especially like to meet the foreign tourists and I've noticed collecting money for HAAM at The Waterloo during SXSW, that they are the ones dropping the big bucks in the box.

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Coapublic Information admin 2 months ago

Thanks for your comments, Dick! -Moderator

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Denise Prince 2 months ago

Because of the impact tourists have adding to increased congestion I'd like to see their tax dollars spent in ways that allow the city to stop nickel and diming the residents. By this I mean, keeping parking in parks free all year, returning some of the free parking (yes, there used to be a lot of free parking even downtown. It has mostly disappeared along with so many spaces being turned into valet, etc. Austin has taken a shift towards seeming out to squeeze everyone. If tourists are able to offset some costs the city could go back to feeling friendly. I can't overstate the cost to the soul of the city of the "just get used to it" reduction in quality of life caused by the seeming greed of City Hall. As an artist who applies for Cultural Arts Division grants and has received 5 I hope I am not suggesting the part of the hotel occupancy tax be pulled from funding for the arts. I just know many people who don't feel the same about Austin anymore and when asked it always comes back to the increasing costs of living here and feeling like everyone is trying to squeeze every last penny out of everyone else. Help take the pressure off so artists and musicians can afford to stay local.

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Coapublic Information admin about 1 month ago

Thanks for your comments and clarifications, Denise! -Moderator

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Kate Knight 2 months ago

Tourists are a big portion of Austin's income. They come to meet and create with other artists(musicians, painters, actors), for education enrichment as exchange students(met several flying back home to Austin), pensioners, people from other places in the states looking for a change of scenery, festival seekers and supporters, travelers passing through, business innovators and builders etc..ALL of these groups tend to use our hotels. The tax fees they pay from their hotel stays and the money they spend for food, entertainment etc...could be used to transform our downtown area into the kind of place where they could walk, hike and bike instead of adding their rental cars to our already badly congested roadways. Trails, sidewalks, skyways...all these could help with the human traffic issues and make it safer for ALL of us to walk around town. I'm referring to the time several people were struck by a moving vehicle during a past SXSW festival. Tragic. We are already a highly educated and multicultured city. People know this and come here from all parts of the planet. We're enriched from their interactions with us. It's a win win. We desperately need to address the traffic and safety issues that the increase in people has already brought to our beautiful city. Revenue would be well spent in reducing over crowded and unsafe roads and highways.

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Coapublic Information admin about 1 month ago

Thanks for your comments, Kate--any more specific suggestions on improvements around downtown? Like specific streets, routes, etc.? -Moderator

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Glenn Gurgiolo 2 months ago

The fact that Austin is a tourist destination is a tribute to our vibrant city and way of life. I believe we should do more to educate our visitors in local etiquette. The city has done a great job of communicating we “don’t block the box”. One way we can attack the affordability issue is to let everyone know that in Austin we “always tip the band”. A simple PR campaign could accent this point. Imagine a billboard on I-35 with the simple statement. AUSTIN – Where there’s music in the cafés at night and everybody tips the band. Thoughts?

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Coapublic Information admin about 1 month ago

Interesting suggestion, Glenn! -Moderator

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Barbara Scott 2 months ago

Only certain parts of Austin benefit from tourist dollars, we need to find a way to let these dollars help other parts of town.

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Coapublic Information admin about 1 month ago

Thanks for your suggestion! Do you have ideas of how to make that happen? -Moderator

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David Scally Jr 2 months ago

during ACL & SXSW I hear a lot of negative reporting and conversation about "don't go out anywhere because it's too crowded on the streets and highways" and thus the locals stay home. Actually the only crowding I personally witnessed was in the locality of the venue sites, and the traffic was impeccably well controlled and regulated in my opinion ( I would know I used to live in LA). I think taking some of that negative publicity out of the media and advertising that we make special plans for traffic routing as a tourist destination are two bullet points I would like to see focused on. Tourist money is absolutely pure gravy for any city - never under estimate that!

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Coapublic Information admin about 1 month ago

Thanks for your comments, David. -Moderator

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David Aronofsky 2 months ago

Making Austin tourism-friendly benefits everyone who lives here so more and better mass transportation. Getting rid of Uber and Lyft, in hindsight, was a very bad idea because it is so popular with visitors who prefer to use these services rather than rent cars to add to the traffic congestion. I supported the city position with my vote but I would go the other way based on the visitor complaints I have heard, so stop opposing what the Legislature is about to do. As noted, more and better mass transportation where visitors go. Free bus service downtown might help.

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Coapublic Information admin about 1 month ago

Thanks for those comments, David. -Moderator

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Barbara Scott about 1 month ago

Tourism dollars could be shared by council district

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Coapublic Information admin about 1 month ago

Thanks for that suggestion! How would you suggest the City Council determine how much should go to each district? -Moderator

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