New committee to debate tourism brochure

"Eighteen people serving on a volunteer tourism committee will start talking early next month about how to use more than $100,000 in tax money to bring more tourists to Island County.Having finally gathered or named all the members of the Joint Committee on Tourism after 20 months of collecting the taxes needed to promote the county to potential visitors, Island County Commissioner Bill Thorn has scheduled the body's first meeting for Oct. 5.On the agenda is a discussion of whether the committee should make its first effort a tourism brochure.Thorn said Tuesday that the project was proposed more than two years ago. Now, with a committee made up of representatives from all over the county and enough money to undertake the project, he said it is time to talk about it.Thorn said the committee will also need to talk generally in a gee, how are we going to do this manner about the future goals of the group.The taxes that fund the committee's projects are charged on overnight lodging in the county. Guests at hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and guest cottages pay a 4 percent tax on the price of their lodging. Half of the revenues from the tax go directly to the Joint Committee. The other half is essentially a kickback from the state out of the sales tax it collects. The money is used by the county and cities to fund other types of tourism-related activities.The city of Langley has a different deal on the tax breakdown than the rest of the county. The city contributes a 1 percent tax to the joint committee while it uses the other three percent to fund the Langley Chamber of Commerce, parks maintenance, maintenance on its public restrooms, and the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts.All lodging establishments in Island County and in its cities pay the lodging tax. Island County has collected over $82,000 for the joint tourism effort, while Langley has collected $30,000.The Oct. 5 meeting will be held in the commissioners' meeting room at the Island County Courthouse. The meeting begins at 10 a.m. "

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