Hotel owners got a bed tax because of the notion its up to government to promote their business and fill their rooms.
Every once and a while the media goes to them and creates a narrative about how the government should spend the money as if its a separate and distinct pot of cash the tourism industry controls.
The 3% occupancy tax was put in place during an era when government was growing and lawmakers were grasping at revenue streams. That's how we got school districts taxing cell phone bills and cities taxing cable bills.
Government can spend money on tourism promotion whether or not there is a bed tax, and the fact the occupancy tax was written up to divide the money certain ways or attempt to proscribe its spending was more a function of providing the political cover at the time for its passage.
Kind of like creating a lottery and then assuaging anxiety over its morality by saying its for the children.
If the hospitality industry wants to lobby for bigger appropriations for promotion of their product, they are welcome to do so. I will grant you having the bed tax makes that easier, because you can argue that the public money being spent is not coming from the "taxpayers". That's a slippery slope as I have sat at many a meeting where public funds are expended for museums, zoos and concert promotions all on the premise that it's not "taxpayers" money.
In many ways a "tourism" fund is in effect 'walking around money' for local boards when people come to them asking for some money. Doesn't make it bad, it just means that's what it is.
Watertown Daily Times | Hotel operators want to see more bed tax revenue spent on promotion