Arts & Entertainment Government

Lodging tax dollars recycled into more tourists

Posted on November 29th, 2021 By:

Visitors to Gig Harbor will be lured by fun runs, bike rides, festivals, music concerts and art shows in 2022, all funded, at least in part, by grants from the city’s lodging tax fund.

The city collects a tax that’s added to overnight stays at hotels, motels and Airbnbs and allocates grants, according to state law, to organizations and businesses that generate tourism and contribute to “heads-in-beds.”

In Gig Harbor, $125,000 in lodging tax grants are awarded every year, allocated through an application process. The applications are reviewed by a lodging tax advisory committee (LTAC), comprising lodging owners and potential grant recipients. LTAC members are appointed by the City Council. The committee is chaired by the mayor. Grant recommendations are approved by the Council.

Athletic events were the big winners among the 2022 grant recipients, including four fun runs, two canoe and kayak events, and a trap shoot.

Grants were awarded to the Gig Harbor Senior Center’s Shamrockin’ Run ($500); Permission to Start Dreaming (PTSD) Foundation’s Race for a Soldier, Pull for a Soldier and a prayer breakfast ($15,000); Greater Gig Harbor Foundation’s Rattle Dem Bones bicycle race ($1,000); Rotary North’s Gallopin’ Gertie Half Marathon ($8,000); and the Gig Harbor Sportsman’s Club’s SeaFood Trap Shoot ($4,500). The Gig Harbor Canoe & Kayak Racing Team was awarded $5,000 for the Paddlers Cup and $5,000 for the Narrows Challenge.

Arts and culture events also fared well: Peninsula Art League’s Summer Arts Festival ($4,000) and Open Juried Art Show ($3,000); and the Gig Harbor Film Festival ($16,000). Harbor History Museum will receive $11,500 to support its special exhibits. Harbor WildWatch’s Chum Festival was granted $2,500 (plus $11,000 for Visitors Center operations) and the Gig Harbor Arts Center Alliance’s Heritage Day Festival gets $3,000.

In addition, grants were awarded to the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation for the Cider Swig ($5,000), BoatShop ($2,000) and Downtown Waterfront Alliance for the Farmer’s Market ($17,000).

Although the LTAC recommended a grant to the Crescent Valley Lavender Farm, the City Council declined to approve it and recommended that support be given instead to the Asia Pacific Cultural Center’s Gig Harbor ChuSeok (Full Moon) Festival. The change will be discussed and a decision made at the Council’s Jan. 10 meeting. Also in question is a $6,000 grant for Dunagan Irish Pub & Brewery’s Celtic Music Festival as the city seeks clarification on whether for-profit businesses can receive funds.

The city’s Tourism and Marketing Department will receive $375,000 in lodging tax funds and the potential of an additional $115,000 in partnership dollars for operations, and event and destination marketing expenses. In addition to creating advertising and promotional campaigns to attract visitors, the department produces the Summer Sounds concerts and presents films in city parks during the summer. It also organizes the annual Christmas tree lighting and other holiday events, and promotes numerous other events presented by local organizations.