CLARKSVILLE, TN (CLARKSVILLE NOW) – Local occupancy tax revenue – which comes from the hotel/motel tax – is steadily increasing following blows from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Montgomery County took the ninth spot in Tennessee for tourism spending in 2021, topping $340 million. Part of those tourism dollars comes from the 8% hotel/motel tax that the county collects on visitor stays at hotels, motels and, as of January 2022, Airbnbs.
Post COVID tax collections on rise
County Trustee Kimberly Wiggins noted during the Sept. 6 County Commission meeting that the COVID-19 pandemic gave Montgomery County a big hit, but the numbers are heading in the right direction.
“So when you look at our comparison of our hotel/motel occupancy taxes for 2020, it was $2.6 million, for 2021 it was $3.6 million, and then when I looked at 2022, we’re at $2.6 million, and if we stay on the same trajectory at $300,000 a month, that will bring us $4.3 million,” Wiggins said.
In addition, she noted that occupancy tax on short-term rentals is also up in 2022 over 2021. In 2021, the annual amount collected was $166,743. So far in 2022, the Trustee’s Office has already collected over $170,000.
“If we see a trend of $15,000 a month, we’ll end the year with $245,704 in short-term rental revenue on occupancy tax.”
Once these funds are collected, they are allocated to a few different places in Montgomery County: 25% goes to the City of Clarksville’s General Fund, 50% goes to the Tourism Promotion Fund, and 25% goes to Montgomery County’s General Fund.
Where are they coming from?
People travel to Clarksville for a variety of reasons, according to data from Visit Clarksville. The top 5 places visited in 2021 were Fort Campbell, Rotary Park, Austin Peay State University, Hilton Garden Inn and Liberty Park.
Of visitor spending in 2021, 47.8% was on food, 19% on accommodations, 16% on transportation, 9% on retail, and the other 9.2% was spread across specialty retail, health, nightlife, commercial, attractions, business and outdoor recreation.
Looking at cardholder data, the top 5 groups of visitors came from Atlanta; Chicago; Evansville, Indiana; Jacksonville, Florida; and Knoxville.
While Fort Campbell and Austin Peay State University bring in diverse groups of people, there are other reasons people come to Clarksville and Montgomery County, according to Theresa Harrington, Visit Clarksville executive director.
“Our community is a true Southern community and hospitality is what we do,” Harrington told Clarksville Now. “Our office does a lot of telling the word to come here, but if it wasn’t for our community inviting people in and accepting people, then we wouldn’t be where we are. I think we have a lot of return visitors.”
Harrington noted that people keep coming back every year to Clarksville to enjoy group tours, sporting events, and the trails program in the Visit Clarksville mobile app.
For those who are unfamiliar with the app, it contains a number of trails where visitors can check in and earn rewards. The trails include family-friendly attractions, the most “Instagrammable” locations, the African Legacy Trail, the Civil War Trail, the Heritage Trail, and others.
The app also includes dining and lodging locations and allows visitors to arrange items of interest into a plan.