KENNEWICK, Wash. - The Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau is reporting that less money came into the area from hotel and motel tax collections this year. However, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
While the numbers are down about 6% from last year, it's really an overall improvement.
It all boils down to the $2 billion in stimulus money that trickled into the Tri-Cities between 2010 and 2011. That money boosted the local economy and helped bring in more tourism which pushed the tax collection dollars well about $700,000.
2009 was the last year where there was no stimulus money supplementing that revenue.
"So we used that as our benchmark and we're showing we're about 7% ahead of where we were in 2009. So are we in a better place as a result of stimulus dollars? Yes, we're in a better place than we were prior to stimulus dollars," said president and CEO Kris Watkins.
She said the Tri-Cities are positioned for a continuing upward trend for tourism because of the growing wine industry and premiere sports facilities.
In other good news, the Tri-Cities Bureau now holds the number two spot for largest Visitors Bureaus in the state with 750 members. Second only to Seattle.