That is one of the recommendations made in a report delivered yesterday by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Tourism, led by House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz. The 15-member group advocates increasing hotel occupancy tax revenue that is diverted to the Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund from 10 percent to 25 percent; 60 percent of that total would go towards supporting tourism with the remainder supporting arts and culture.
As for the tax itself — which is set to go from 15 percent to 17 percent in the next fiscal year – the panel recommended no additional increase.
Tourism in the state currently contributes $14.7 billion in business sales, generates $1.7 billion in tax revenues and supports nearly 83,000 direct jobs and 121,000 indirect jobs.
The panel also recommended a review of the state’s marketing, including the replacement of its “Still Revolutionary” branding; the appointment of a commissioner who would report directly to Gov. Ned Lamont; open and staff its five highway Welcome Centers on a 24/7 basis; and add www.CTVisit.com to all license plates.
Donald DeVivo, the panel’s chairman, testified at a March 12 public hearing on behalf of a pair of tourism-related bills: H.B. 7307, which would require the state Commerce Committee to conduct a study of tourism and its effects on the state, and H.B. 7306, which would require Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner-elect David Lehman to implement the panel’s recommendations and submit a report on the plan.
Both of those items would be due by Feb. 1, 2020.