(Lander, Wyo) – This past year Fremont County collected $634,000 from the lodging tax. While 75% of this is spent to market Wind River Country to tourists through the Wind River Visitors Council, the other 25% is given back to the communities where it is collected to help them do local promotions.
Lander, Dubois, Riverton, Shoshoni and Hudson, members of the Joint Powers Board that formed the Wind River Visitors Council in the late 1980s, receive their portion of the lodging tax as part of the Tourism Asset Development, or TAD, program. Much of the TAD lodging revenue is then given out as grants to promote local events and support community marketing.
“No matter how you slice it—our 4 percent lodging tax is a good thing,” said Brian Fabel, Lander Chamber of Commerce Director. “In Lander, more than $12,000 was awarded to organizations hosting activities that bring people to Fremont County. When you think of iconic events like the Lander Rodeo, Pioneer Days Parade, the International Climbers Festival, Lander Community Foundation Challenge for Charities Half Marathon and 5k Run, the One Shot Antelope Hunt, and the Lander Art Center’s Riverfest—think of your TAD and Lodging Tax funds at work.” The remaining TAD funds were invested by the Chamber in advertising and promotion to have people and events come to Lander.
As an example of how Lodging Tax funds are re-invested in Lander, the Wind River Visitors Council’s TAD funds were used by the Lander Chamber of Commerce to help host The Cycle Greater Yellowstone bike trip, which brought about 700 cyclists to Lander for 2 days in mid-August. It’s estimated that each cyclist spent $60-$75 per day over 2 days, resulting in an economic impact of over $100,000 to Lander’s retail shops, restaurants, motels, and attractions.
International Climbers’ Festival Board Member Mark Calhoun remarked, “TAD funds allowed us to reach our greatest number of attendees to the International Climbers’ Festival in 21 years. Our numbers grew by 20 percent this year, and we had an increased number of people arriving from out of state.”
Just under 2,000 people attended Lander’s Riverfest this summer. In the six years the Lander Art Center has hosted the event – which features live music and artists – it gets better each year, said Lisa Hueneke, executive director.
For the art center, the advertising money is crucial for the center to keep putting on Riverfest. “We are a nonprofit and we’re small,” Hueneke said. “These funds are so valuable to the marketing efforts of the Lander Art Center's Riverfest Art and Music in the Park. We could not do the marketing throughout the state without these funds. "
The Chamber also uses the TAD funds to bring sports tournaments, conferences, and other large events to town. Examples of these economic drivers are the Cycle Greater Yellowstone bicycle tour, as well as the Lander Invitational Wrestling Tournament, Class 1A West Regional Basketball Tournament, and the Class 1A/2A/3A West Regional Track Meet.
Former Lander Valley High School Activities Director Spike Robinson agrees, “This is exactly the type of support that makes hosting regional sports tournaments possible. We want to thank the Tourism Asset Development program for their generous support.”
Press Release distributed by the Wind River Visitors Council - Your Fremont County Lodging Tax Dollars at Work!
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