New hotel fee proposed to boost Quad Cities tourism

MOLINE, Illinois-- Citing the need to level the playing field with competitors, leaders from the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau plan on creating a new voluntary destination fee that would tack an additional dollar or two on visitors' hotel bills to be used for marketing the region as a tourism destination.

A combination of state budget cuts in both Illinois and Iowa -  as well as the fact local governments here steer more hotel-motel tax money into city coffers rather than back into tourism development compared to other Midwest metro areas - means the QCCVB needs to find a new revenue stream, bureau president Joe Taylor said.

Taylor brought in the heads of the visitor bureaus in Dubuque and Burlington, which have already instituted a destination fee, to talk with area hotel managers and other Quad Cities hospitality stakeholders for a meeting at the Taxslayer Center in Moline on Thursday, Nov. 9.

"Many of us rely on hotel tax, and unfortunately a lot of city budgets are under fire and are needing more collections," said Chelsi Lerude, of the Greater Burlington Convention and Business Bureau.

This is especially true in the Quad Cities.

Taylor noted that the QCCVB here only receives 15 percent of the hotel-motel tax taken in on the Iowa side of the river and only 25 percent of that taken in in Illinois. By comparison, 90 percent of all hotel-motel tax collected in Des Moines goes back into tourism marketing, 79 percent in Dubuque and 70 percent in Rockford.

This puts the Quad Cities at a severe disadvantage in its ability to attract visitors, as those metro areas are direct competitors for tourists, he said.



The destination fee would be a voluntary charge placed on a guests hotel bill. It typically ranges from $1 per room, per night to $2 per room or so in Midwest markets, panelists said. Guests are allowed to opt out, but few do, since the fee is so small, said Keith Rahe, president of Dubuque's bureau.

Joe Taylor from the QCVB says the fee would help the area stay competitive and provide funds to bring attractions to the Quad Cities.

" We would used those funds for trade shows, marketing sales, and incentives. All the kinds of things that we need to bring visitors and groups and sporting tournaments here," said Taylor.

The QCCVB board has already voted in favor of instituting the destination fee. The next step is setting up meetings with area hoteliers who might be willing to participate in the program, said Lynn Hunt, the QCCVB's vice president of sales.

Participating hotels likely would get perks from the QCCVB in exchange for participation, such as preferred placement in marketing materials and on the bureau's website and more exposure to potential convention and meeting booking agents, Hunt said.