One Sevier County city will now be a bit more expensive for tourists looking to stay in its hotels and motels.
Monday night, the Sevierville Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 3 to 0 to raise the city's lodging tax on hotels and motels by 1 percent. Now, tourists looking to stay the night in Sevierville will have to pay a 3 percent tax.
"We have a 2 percent lodging tax that's been in effect for a number of years, but this is the first time we've voted to increase it," said Sevierville Spokesperson Bob Stahlke.
City leaders say the tax will generate $660,000 a year. It said it will use part of that revenue to promote the city with television, newspaper and magazine adverts.
"It's a way for us to better fund tourism advertising for the city," Stahlke said.
The lodging tax increase will go into effect July 1. However, tourists who have already reserved rooms for after July 1 will not have to pay an increased rate.
At Monday's meeting, the Sevierville board said it would get rid of the tax increase if the State of Tennessee were to help it enact a hospitality tax within its borders. While Sevierville has yet to approach the state with an exact plan, the board said such a tax on the city's restaurants and attractions would bring in even more money than a lodging tax increase.
However, not everyone supports that plan.
Tasha Wade is vice-president of Sevierville-based Stokely Hospitality Enterprises. She said she feels a hospitality tax could have a negative impact on other parts of Sevierville's economy.
"We have a lot of the cabins that are pulling in the tourists, but a lot of the tourists, they may not go out to a restaurant if they're continuing to have to pay more and more," she said.