SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The hotel motel tax in Savannah is finally going to be on the rise. It comes after Governor Brian Kemp signed House Bill 718 which now paves the way for Savannah to increase the tax from 6% to 8%.
It has been an extremely long journey—a seven year process to get it done—the city will start funneling more money into tourism by upping the price when tourists come to town.
For years now, Savannah has had a lower Hotel Motel Tax than surrounding cities such as Tybee Island and even Thunderbolt even though the hostess city has larger tourism numbers.
But soon, Savannah will see millions more invested back into the tourism industry.
Michael Owens, CEO of the Savannah Tourism Council explained, “Hotel motel tax is really built to invest in tourism. Our folks are by and large pretty excited about the opportunities that this higher tax can bring.”
Today, Mayor Van Johnson further explained the advantage of the two percent increase.
He says it was the number one legislative priority for the past three years.
“To get to this point where visitors help to pay for things that visitors enjoy is a huge shift for us to be able to expand our financial and revenue streams,” Johnson said.
Johnson offered a sneak peek today for what the increase in tax will be used for once collection begins.
“What we will ultimately do is we will have total renovation of River Street. I see it being play spaces I see it being splash pads, more performance. It’s going to be epic. It’s going to be a great opportunity for us.”
Based on the 2022 tourism numbers, the city would have brought in an extra $12 million with an 8% tax in place.
As of now, the mayor says the city will look to start collecting in the fall.