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Monday, Nov. 9, 2015

Sports Tourism

Tax will enhance sporting events in area

A brief contrast, if you will … A recent visit with Shreveport Bossier Sports Commission members Don Williams and Billy Montgomery prompted Montgomery to recall an observation from former Bossier City Mayor George Dement, who was a hotelier before entering politics: “When you come to [visit] Bossier City and Shreveport, what do you do? You’re doing it right now – staying in your room and watching TV.”

But times have changed, and Williams and Montgomery said, locals – and importantly, visitors to our area – can find something sportswise going on almost every weekend in the Caddo/Bossier area.

So as it concerns the proposed 1.5 percent increase in the Caddo – Bossier hotel/motel occupancy tax, a 2010 tourism-review.com article might help local voters see the benefit in increasing the tax.

“Sports tourism is emerging as a key component of tourism supply. Major tourism destinations are developing tourism product concepts around pleasure sports. These concepts enable destinations to stand out amongst their competitors. Sports tourism is a multibillion dollar business, one of the fastest growing areas of the $4.5 trillion global travel and tourism industry. Thus sports tourism has started to earn its reputation to be a multi-million dollar business,” the article stated.

Shreveport-Bossier City and Caddo and Bossier parishes, through the SBSC, are already realizing the benefits of a structured promotion of our area for sports tourism – over $40 million in direct revenue to venues and hotels, restaurants, retailers, casinos, transportation providers, along with sales tax receipts that pour back into local governments that we don’t pay.

But we can really grow this tourism sector when voters visit the polls Nov. 21, and vote “yes” to bring more sports tourism visitors to our area.

SBSC was established as a division of the Sh revepor t-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau in 2012 by Shreveport, Bossier City and Caddo and Bossier parishes.

It’s mission is to attract, manage and produce sporting events that enhance quality of life for area residents as well as drawing out-of-town visitors to enjoy these events. Currently, SBSC receives $25,000 per year from each of the cities and parishes that formed the group, and the tourism bureau provides funding to help bring sports events to our area.

Since its inception, SBSC’s events have generated better than a $40 million economic impact in direct revenues to venues, hotels, restaurants, retailers and other regional service providers.

The 1.5 percent increase in the hotel/motel occupancy tax is predicted to generate approximately $1.7 million a year to be equally divided between the SBSC, Regional Air Service Alliance and the Independence Bowl. That nearly $600,000 a year for the SBSC could mean more events, more visitors to the area, more revenue to our area’s 40,000 strong tourism employees and businesses, allowing for improvement of our local venues and additional draws. And there’s also those dollars to municipal and parish coffers that we don’t pay.

Montgomery and Williams were quick to point out our area’s many sports tourism draws, including area lakes and the Red River, notable sports facilities for both youth and adult events in both cities/parishes (baseball, golf, tennis, fishing, football, water sports. It’s a long list). The increased hotel/motel occupancy tax would add about $1.10 to the cost of a room in our region of the state, which incidentally has the lowest average daily rates in the state.

Revenue generated from this minimal tax increase would allow SBSC to attract even more events to our area.

If that means more events than the 2015 list, our visitors and local residents would be in for a real treat. In 2015, SBSC worked to bring such events as the Regions Archery Tournament (Cypress Lake), Lady Bass Anglers (Caddo Lake), Thunder Road Street Outlaws Racing, Cops Bass Tournament (Red River), USTA Boys and Girls Age 14 Intersectionals (Pierremont Oaks), and Tour De La Riviere Rouge and 410 de Louisiane (Canoe/Kayak on Red River).

That’s the short list of a page and a half of events.

A “yes” vote to increase the hotel/motel tax would allow SBSC to effectively continue developing sports tourism as an economic sector in northwest Louisiana – as well as provide RASA with the resources to negotiate with airlines to add direct flights to major and regional hubs – and finally provide a stable, recurring revenue stream to the Indy Bowl.

Consider voting “yes” to this proposal – at no cost to you – to move our area forward on all of these fronts.

Marty Carlson, a freelance writer, has been covering local news for the past 17 years. She can be reached via email at martycarlson1218@ gmail.com.

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