Who comes to Clarksville? Occupancy tax revenue recovers after COVID-19 pandemic

CLARKSVILLE, TN (CLARKSVILLE NOW) – Local Occupancy Tax revenue – which comes from the Hotel/Motel Tax – is steadily increasing following the blows of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Montgomery County took Tennessee’s ninth spot in tourism spending in 2021, surpassing $340 million. A portion of those tourism dollars comes from the 8% hotel/motel tax the county collects from visitor stays at hotels, motels, and, since January 2022, Airbnbs.

Post-COVID tax collections increase

County Administrator Kimberly Wiggins noted at the Sept. 6 county commission meeting that the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt Montgomery County a hard blow, but the numbers are heading in the right direction.

“So when you look at our comparison of our hotel/motel occupancy taxes for 2020 it was $2.6 million, for 2021 it was $3.6 million, then when I looked 2022, we’re at $2.6 million, and if we stay on the same trajectory at $300,000 a month, that’ll net us $4.3 million,” Wiggins said.

Additionally, she noted that the occupancy tax on short-term rentals is also up in 2022 compared to 2021. In 2021, the annual amount collected was $166,743. So far in 2022, the Office of the Trustee has already raised over $170,000.

“If we see a trend of $15,000 per month, we’ll end the year with $245,704 in short-term rental income on occupancy tax.”

Once these funds are collected, they are allocated to a few different locations in Montgomery County: 25% goes to the City of Clarksville General Fund, 50% goes to the Tourism Promotion Fund, and 25% goes to the Montgomery County General Fund.

Where do they come from ?

People travel to Clarksville for a variety of reasons, according to data from Visit Clarksville. The top 5 places visited in 2021 were Fort Campbell, Rotary Park, Austin Peay State University, Hilton Garden Inn and Liberty Park.

Of visitor spending in 2021, 47.8% was on food, 19% on accommodation, 16% on transportation, 9% on retail, and the remaining 9.2% was split between retail specialist, health, nightlife, commerce, attractions, business and outdoor recreation. .

Looking at cardholder data, the top 5 groups of visitors were from Atlanta; Chicago; Evansville, Indiana; Jacksonville, Florida; and Knoxville.

While Fort Campbell and Austin Peay State University attract diverse groups of people, there are other reasons people come to Clarksville and Montgomery County, according to Theresa Harrington, executive director of Visit Clarksville.

“Our community is a true Southern community and hospitality is what we do,” Harrington told Clarksville Now. “Our office does a lot to say the word to come here, but if it wasn’t for our community to invite and accept people, then we wouldn’t be where we are. I think we have a lot of returning visitors.

Harrington noted that people return to Clarksville every year to take advantage of group tours, sporting events and the trail program in the Visit the Clarksville Mobile App.

For those unfamiliar with the app, it contains a number of trails where visitors can check in and earn rewards. Trails include Family Attractions, Most ‘Instagrammable’ Places, African Heritage Trail, Civil War Trail, Heritage Trail and many more.

The app also includes dining and accommodation locations and allows visitors to organize items of interest into a map.

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