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Robert Niles
Editor

Central Florida wants tourists to pay for stadiums and ads

Published: May 19, 2006 at 9:01 AM

The mayors of Orlando and Orange County (Fla.) have joined the leaders of Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando in calling for an increase in hotel and rental car taxes. The increase would raise the tax visitors pay on hotel rooms from five cents on the dollar to six, and add a two dollar surcharge to rental car rates.

Part of the rental car surcharge would pay for the Orlando area's Lynx bus system. But the larger hotel tax would be split 50/50 between funding new advertising campaigns encouraging tourists to visit Orlando and money to rebuild or renovate Orlando's two major sports stadiums, The TD Waterhouse Centre and the Citrus Bowl.

The WDW and UO folks want the ad campaign, obviously. And the local pols want to keep the Orlando Magic and college bowl games(the stadiums' main tenants) happy without soaking local taxpayers.

Those local residents will get to decide whether the tax increases happen, as local law requires a referendum before they can go into effect. The Orlando Sentinel has all the details today.

Personally, I wish governments would stop paying tax money (from whatever the source) on professional sports facilities. Let the teams pay. A better bus system makes sense, though, and should be welcomed by tourists and theme park employees, provided they get better service as a result. And the ad campaign promoting the area could end up paying for itself in more tourists coming to the area.

And here is a link that might be of interest to those planning said campaign... ;-)

Replies (6)

Gareth H

Published: May 19, 2006 at 10:18 AM

Hmm, as a local I find this quite disgusting.

I own a local business and any increase in taxes is sure to hit my pocket, on the flip side the increase in advertising nationally can only hrlp my foot traffic.

Of course, does Orlando really need ore advertising? Everyone knows Orlando exists and what it exists for.
Disney & UO's advertising bucks already contributes heavily to the tourist trade for all businesses here.

In regards to the Lynx bus network, seriusly, this will not help tourism at all.
Tourists will either get a cab, flagged from the street, booked through their hotel, or picked up at a a taxi stand at an attraction. If they are staying on I-Drive they will likely get on an I-Ride trolley to navigate or use the free park transportation offered at all hotels.
The Lynx bus network is out for 99.9% of tourists.
Maybe they should spend some of these tax dollars on building sidewalks, safe crossings (Orlando has the highest death rate on roads in the US) and protect the people who will be paying the additional taxes.

And finally, the Sports Stadiums should be paying for themselves.
Granted the Citrus bowl is a bit of an Eyesore but no tax dollar should be spent on this when they charge an entrance fee for events!

Robert Niles
Editor

Published: May 19, 2006 at 11:44 AM

There's no reason why the Lynx network couldn't be designed to accomodate tourists. But, you're right, it hasn't been and I don't think 50 cents a rental car is gonna get that done. But if there were the political will in Orlando (I know, stop laughing...) there could be a light rail system cross-connecting the airport, downtown, UO, I-Drive, the Convention Center, SeaWorld and Downtown Disney. But Disney doesn't want anyone to have easy access off its property, so that ain't gonna happen.
Gareth H

Published: May 19, 2006 at 12:35 PM

Ah, lets talk about the light rail system shall we.
We all know the space is there to do it, its been designed & approved to a degree.
But don't look at Disney for the lack of Rail System, it's not down to them. There's a different force keeping it out. All I'll say is transportation monopoly.
Mark Hollamon

Published: May 20, 2006 at 5:17 AM

The light rail system has been kicked around for years. Disney won't budge on the stance they don't want a system that will take guests away from the property. Can't blame them on that one. The bus proposal is interesting if it can be developed properly.

The TD Waterhouse Center is in need of major revamping. I am not really sold on a demo option. Who cares about the Magic. They won't improve their team, so why improve the arena for them, BUT there are major music acts that pass Orlando by simply because they have no place they feel comfortable playing in.

Many locals share the same opinion that the acoustics at TDW are bad. That would be the reason for my major support of a project like that.

Robert OGrosky

Published: May 20, 2006 at 10:02 AM

So, now i will be stuck paying a additional tax and wont get one benefit at all!!!!!!!!!!
Its sad that disney and universal will screw there guests by going along with this tax, when additions to the park by themselves will add many more guests than some medicore tv ads/newsprint ads etc.
Michelle Seago

Published: May 22, 2006 at 1:23 AM

I think it's really sad that they want to do this. Disney World has just lowered prices this year, trying to make it more affordable for families to be able to make this vacation. I live in Oregon, have never been to Disney World, and still can't afford to make the trip, even with all the specials. My daughter feels quite bad that she can't go, as some of her friends have been. But we have to pay airfare, hotels, food, and tickets. Now Florida wants to make it even more expensive! I save and save, but a single parent can just forget about a vacation to "The Happiest Place On Earth"!

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