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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.

What are some of the greatest challenges posed by tourism and tourists? 

6 Responses

Seth Goodman 6 months ago

Tourists + rental cars = sad Austinites Tourists are at their worst when they are driving. Many Americans are most likely to use transit, walk, and bike while they are on vacation. We should be encouraging that to the greatest extent possible. Tourists are also a problem when they become concentrated in too small of a space. Around the convention center, we have started to create a quarter of the city that is exclusively hotels, chain restaurants aimed at catering to the lowest common denominator of taste, parking, and of course the convention center itself. Austinites generally avoid this area because it feels sterile, lacks diversity of uses, and because giant ballrooms filled with this year's hottest trends in tile and carpet are nobody's idea of a good time. It shows when there's no convention on because the streets around the convention center become a dead zone. In order for tourists to have the positive impact on the local economy that is often boasted, they need to get out and spread out and that means we should distribute hotels more evenly around the walkable parts of town.

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Coapublic Information admin 6 months ago

Thanks for your comments, Seth! -Moderator

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Tim Altanero 6 months ago

I don't mind tourists at all.

We are addressing the hotel room shortage downtown pretty well, I think.

What's problematic - and this is not caused by tourists - is the lack of viable public transport. Running more busses is fine, in theory, but they are in traffic too.

We need to think about the city longterm and invest in that longterm future. Yes, it will cost, but if you think about what you pay for your car every year, and how much time you spend in traffic, adding a small tax to fund subway and commuter rail would remove probably most of those "annoying" tourists from the roads.

I don't know about you but I certainly hate to drive and don't relish having to do that in a new city. Rather take public transport.

A bit off-topic but does anyone ride the "red" line? If you do, you know that it is SRO (standing room only) during peak commuter times.

We've had that line for several years but we never address the problem (or its high cost) - the train is a "toy" to move a couple of people around. It is not meant for people to commute and thus should be shut or re-examined such that it serves us as commuter rail instead of the "fun" "light rail" term we currently use.

It's absolutely infuriating that when the train arrives at even just Howard during commute times, you may not even be able to get in! And then you wait another 30 minutes for the next and get dinged at work for being late?

God help you if you want to use the train below Howard during commute times.

Point being - what we have already is not being used effectively or expanded. And what we want probably won't happen at all if we can't get what we have now right in the face of obvious - and easily fixable - transport issues.

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Natalie Hulsey 6 months ago

I am reiterating what some have said above in regards to transportation issues as one of the greatest challenges for tourists. It is unfortunate that more metro rail has not been voted in--costly but in the long run I believe would be used by tourists and Austinites alike. The problem with former proposals is that the initial routes just went where buses already go. We need to have established corridors (like many major cities--Atlanta, Chicago, etc.) that run north to south and east (from airport) to west, then later adding on routes that are northwest to northeast and southwest to southeast. The city also needs to work on better advertising or gaining back more recognizable ride sharing companies. We have local ones, but tourists are looking for Uber and Lyft which have been marketed well and with which they are familiar. Ride and Fare could do with better advertising to educate tourists. Another challenge faced by tourists is affordable places to stay that are close to public transport. Perhaps during peak volume times there could be more incentive for citizens of Austin (lower tax rate to the city from what they rent on certain weekends or weeks) to rent out a room in their home or their entire home using platforms such as Airbnb and Homeaway in order to help with affordability. Yes, this would take away from some hotels, but this gives tourists more options on where they can stay and they will pump money into our city's economy either way.

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Cecile FG 5 months ago


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Coapublic Information admin 5 months ago

Cecile FG, before I consider whether to remove your post based on our terms and conditions (, could you clarify? -Moderator.

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