Those in the business of tourism have certainly suffered a loss of business along with many others in the community the last few months due to COVID-19. However we are extremely happy that our local businesses are beginning to open back up and tourists are being welcomed once again.
Several citizens in the community have mentioned to me how surprised they were to see empty motels and hotels, but it is because of the lack of travel, both business and pleasure, due to COVID-19.
In order to get an idea of how our local hotels and motels have been impacted, I turned to Nathan Holt, trustee, who thoughtfully prepared for me an analysis of hotel/motel tax collections.
Obviously no numbers are available for June, but taking the months of March, April and May the following information shows how significant hotel/motel tax is for Greeneville and Greene County.
For March, 2017-18 we collected $28,349.21 in hotel/motel taxes; March 2018-19 we collected $28,677.19 and then March 2019-20 we collected $27,688.96. That is a decrease of 3.45 percent.
For April 2017-18 we collected $33,895.76; April 2018-19 we collected $34,206.61; and then April 2019-20 we collected $19,487.61. That is a decrease of 43.03 percent.
For May 2017-18 we collected $38,709.35; May 2018-19 we collected $35,564.71 and then in May 2019-20 we collected $12,576.54. That is a decrease of 64.64 percent.
Taking a look at the bigger picture, for the period of July through May, the last four years, the tax collections for hotel/motel taxes are down 16.63 percent. The total from 2018-19 was $444,577.91 (that includes June) and the total for 2019-20 through May is $370,661.24. The tourism task force encourages you to invite family and friends to visit and use our local hotels and motels.
The tourism department of the Greene County Partnership has launched a program of : “We’re Glad You’re Open.” Tourism director Tammy Kinser is going around photographing businesses that have reopened. The following is a list of those captured so far: Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Brolin & Bailey, Catalyst Coffee Company, Creamy Cup, General Morgan Inn, Glamour Tans, Greeneville Antique Market, Greeneville City Garage Museum, Greeneville-Greene County History Museum, Esther & Ella, Jump Tennessee and Mosheim Town Hall.
Tourism is very important to our community and Jeff Taylor, GCP president said, “We want tourists to come to our community and stay as long as possible. The longer they visit, they will spend more money and are most likely to tell that many more people about Greeneville and what we have to offer. Tourism enables our community to diversify our sources of income and not rely on just industry. It never gets old for me to tell that if it were not for state and local taxes generated by tourism, each Greene County household would pay $301.32 more in taxes.”
If you ever have any suggestions for tourism, please do not hesitate to contact me at 552-3983 or Tammy Kinser at the Greene County Partnership, 638-4111.