Visitors do impact our Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) and other local taxes.
Let's examine just released, up-to-date figures about the impact of visitors' expenditures in Dalton provided by the Georgia Department of Economic Development Tourism Division. Tourists include anyone from outside the county who spend money in the county on hotels, gas, food, events and retail.
In 2017, visitors provided $197.54 million in direct spending in Whitfield County. This resulted in $8.45 million in state tax revenue and $5.58 million in local tax revenue. Tourism in our county supported 1,754 jobs with a payroll of $42.01 million.
The state of Georgia reports that "each Whitfield County household would need to be taxed an additional $397 per year to replace taxes generated by tourism economic activity." These figures show that we should respect the impact of the money that outsiders leave in the Dalton area when they stop or stay here. Yes, they help our tax base by paying a strong portion and they will also impact our SPLOST 1 percent sales tax as well.
Tourism here is strong because of our sports events, historic sites, business travel and interstate travelers. Our hotels are very viable right now and we have two more under construction. Their occupancy rate is stable and the hotels are often completely full on the weekends. The lodging tax has gone up every year for the last 10 years as a result of the Convention and Visitors Bureau's aggressive marketing of Dalton's assets and the many sports events, such as ball tournaments, races and bike races.
Have you seen the enticing billboards along Interstate 75? Many travelers stay in Dalton to avoid staying in Chattanooga or Atlanta, plus many come here specifically for business, sports and family events and historic places. They all help to pay for the SPLOST.