The Montgomery County Council approved changes to the Kensington Sector Plan.

Council Increases Funding for Promotion

The Montgomery County Council today approved Bill 36-12 that will provide increased funding to promote the County as a good place for business travelers, for tourists to stay while they enjoy the Capital Region and for visitors and residents to enjoy the many exciting events and amenities the County has to offer.

Bill 36-12 will increase the amount of the hotel/motel tax collected by the County and directed to the County’s Conference and Visitors Bureau from 3.5 to 7 percent.

Council member Nancy Floreen is the chief sponsor of the legislation that would enable the nonprofit Visitors Bureau to better promote the County.

Council members Roger Berliner, Nancy Navarro and Craig Rice were co-sponsors of the bill, which was approved by an 8-1 vote. Council member Hans Riemer was opposed.

“Our tourism industry is one of the largest voices for promoting economic development in Montgomery County,” said Council member Floreen, who chairs the Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee. “By increasing the amount of money the Conference and Visitors Bureau receives from the hotel/motel tax, we are giving it the funding to be a bigger player in the region.”

Assuming the hotel/motel tax revenues stay consistent with recent years’ collections, the bill will provide approximately $630,000 additional for the Visitors Bureau.

During public testimony about the bill, it was shown that Montgomery County spends less overall on promotions than all neighboring jurisdictions other than Arlington County in Virginia.

In looking ahead, it was noted that the County must be ready to more aggressively compete for tourism and conventions with Prince George’s County and other Maryland jurisdictions that have, or will have, casinos.

During work sessions on the bill, it was shown that the Montgomery Visitors Bureau had three full-time and two part-time staff in 1999. Currently, the bureau has five full-time staff members, but over the past 13 years, the County has added new cultural attractions such as the new Strathmore Hall, the Fillmore and the AFI Silver Theater. The County also has opened the SoccerPlex in Germantown and the North Bethesda Conference Center.

“Montgomery County has a tremendous amount of exciting events going on,” said Council member Floreen. “This will enhance our ability to share the depth and breadth of the Montgomery County with residents and visitors alike.”

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