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Monday, June 5, 2017

HOTEL-MOTEL OCCUPANCY TAX

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Tax lands non-stop Charlotte flights, should yield substantial returns

When Caddo and Bossier voters approved the additional 1.5 percent hotel-motel occupancy tax in the fall of 2015, Bossier Mayor Lo Walker and Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler promised that the funds collected from out-of-town visitors would reap benefits for both Bossier and Caddo Parish. At the end of 2016, many local citizens had questions, especially after another dismal year for the Independence Bowl, no high -profile sporting events and absolutely no progress in gaining additional airline flights out of Shreveport to out-ofstate destinations. This perception changed, at least as far as the Arklatex Regional Air Service Alliance (RASA) is concerned, with the announcement of nonstop direct flights by American Airlines to Charlotte, N.C.

This non-stop jet service will begin on Aug. 22; there will be two flights daily. After its merger with US Air, Charlotte is American Airline’s second largest hub, and there are connecting flights from there to more than 250 domestic and international cities with just one stop. Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina with a population of more than 800,000 people; it is a regional banking center for nationwide banks. American presently has flights to Dallas-Fort Worth; once flights begin, local travelers will not need to go west to DFW before flying east on American Airlines.

RASA’s incentive to American Airlines for the Charlotte flight is a one-time payment of $200,000 for marketing and advertising. These flights can bring an additional 100 seats coming into Shreveport daily, with a potential economic impact of over $8 million annually.

Thus, the RASA investment should yield substantial returns. And the good news is that RASA has more funds on hand of almost $300,000 to be utilized to obtain additional flights. High on the list of desired flight destinations are Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. RASA should receive an additional half-million dollars each year from the hotel-motel tax that will add to its coffers.

An example of how this new connection adds convenience are the total flight times from Shreveport to D.C. Leaving here at 7:15 a.m., a traveler can be on the ground at either Dulles Airport or Reagan Airport by 1 p.m. The Metro, the D.C. mass transit system, can put a visitor at the Pentagon by 2 p.m. from Reagan; this timeline will be very beneficial to Barksdale Air Force Base, Global Strike Command, Cyber Innovation Center and CSRA’s Integrated Technology Center.

"This perception changed, at least as far as the Arklatex Regional Air Service Alliance (RASA) is concerned, with the announcement of nonstop direct fl ights by American Airlines to Charlotte, N.C.”

American Airline is committing over $80 million in aircraft for these flights, along with equipment and crews. Obviously, this will be a long-term investment for American, and hopefully, the local market will support this route. The additional flights should create price pressure for Delta, which is desperately needed for Shreveport air travelers who often drive to DFW for cost savings.

John E. Settle Jr. has been a resident of Shreveport since January 1977. His articles appear regularly in local publications. He can be reached at 742- 5513 or e-mail to: john@jsettle.com

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