Transient Guests, Their Money, & Our Future

Guests in our community make up a big chunk of the money we can spend in Topeka. Part of our role on the Transient Guest Tax (TGT) Committee is to determine how to best reinvest that revenue to help maintain our ability to stay competitive in a tough industry. We’re surrounded by communities also fighting for the same guests, conferences, festivals, events and, you guessed it, revenue.  To help with that, most communities have a convention and visitors bureau tasked with making strategic investments that will bring folks to the community and increase tax revenue. In Topeka, we have Visit Topeka, which takes on that challenge and does a great job. On average, for every $1 we give them to invest, they are able to give the City $3 back in revenue.

This year is unique in that part of the TGT tax is set to expire at the end of the 2015. In the past, 1% has been dedicated to things like the Riverfront Park, the Great Overland Station and historic preservation. We’ve already think we should keep it around for the next 12 years (a formal Council vote will take place before Sept. 1). Now the question is, “What to do with it?” Conservative estimates indicate it could generate a little more than $7 million dollars. Not much in the grand scheme of things, but if sliced up and invested correctly, it could really jump start some the tourist attractions that have been trying to get off the ground for years.

That brings us to where we are today. We’ve put out a call for organizations who could use a bit of a boost to get their tourism-related project off the ground to apply for some of these funds. Many of the organizations that have expressed interest have great projects, but it would take years to raise enough money to get them enough momentum to get off the ground.

My hope is that we can package a number of these smaller tourist attractions into a much larger plan to give our City a tourism boost with lots of new places to explore in the next few years!