Award win highlights DCA’s commitment to tourism, community support

When you check out of a hotel and review your bill, you might notice an excise tax charge. This 2-8% tax results in millions of dollars from which counties and cities benefit. That’s where DCA comes in.

Our Office of Planning and Research provides training programs for government officials and community leaders about the hotel-motel excise tax. Led by director Tyler Reinagel, Ph.D., this team is available to answer questions, conduct webinars and seminars, offer resources, and connect with professionals from across the state.

“Every community is unique,” Reinagel said. “We will sit down with them and hammer through what opportunities are on the table to make a more efficient and effective use of the tax dollars.”

There are 280 cities and counties who utilize the revenue, but there is a variety of restrictions on how the funds are spent. For the excise tax, there are two specific categories for spending.

First is the promotion of tourism, conventions and tradeshows by state-defined destination marketing organizations (such as Chambers of Commerce or Convention & Visitors Bureaus). Reinagel explains: “These funds have got to be used for promotional activities like radio, television commercials, billboards and direct mailers.”

Second is tourism product development – “brick and mortar” projects – such as visitor welcome centers, gateway signage in downtown areas, amphitheaters and sports facilities. Reinagel said, “These tourism product development dollars can be spent on anything that is driving tourism to get visitors to come to that community.”

In fiscal year 2018, nearly $286 million was brought in across the 280 jurisdictions that collect the tax last year. Of that money, more than $116 million was used for the two aforementioned categories for promotion and tourism. Reinagel said the revenue generated from the tax helps not only to attract people to communities across Georgia but also helps promote professional partnerships.

“It pumps tourism money right back into cities and counties,” he said. “Beyond that, it helps build relationships between city and county governments and their local Chambers of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureaus.”

DCA helps local government officials to navigate the tax, especially how it evolves. The tax was introduced in the 1970s and decades of legislative changes have resulted in different rules and restrictions.

“We put together training programs and [serve] as a resource to answer any questions that may come up along the way,” Reinagel said. “We do trainings regularly with different organizations. There’s no shortage of training materials and opportunities.”

The Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), Georgia Association of Convention and Visitors Bureau (GACVB), Georgia Municipal Association (GMA), and Georgia Hotel Lodging Association (GHLA) are among the organizations who have utilized training opportunities from DCA.

Because of his leadership, Reinagel was recognized by Gov. Brian Kemp at the Georgia Governor’s Tourism Conference and received the Bill Hardman Sr. Tourism Champion in Government Award. Christopher Nunn, DCA Commissioner, said, “The work that Tyler and his team do across the state is definitely worthy of this incredible recognition.”