The Tourism Improvement District collects a 2 percent assessment on overnight stays in Portland to promote tourism. Proposed by the hotel industry, the fee is approved by the City and paid by guests at hotels and short-term vacation rentals.
Portland’s Tourism Improvement District collects a 2% fee on overnight stays at hotels and vacation rentals. With oversight from the lodging community, Travel Portland invests revenue to promote Portland as a destination – attracting visitors, creating jobs and boosting spending at local businesses.
At the request of hotel executives, the Portland City Council created the Tourism Improvement District in 2012, with a requirement for a periodic sunset review. In 2016, the Council voted to continue the program and made some adjustments to the City code that regulates the Tourism Improvement District.
The Tourism Improvement District has played a significant role in building Portland’s reputation and fueling the local economy:
- Out-of-town visitors spent $5.6 billion at local businesses in 2019, up from $3.9 billion in 2011.
- The hotel industry employed nearly 37,000 people in Portland in 2019, up from 28,560 in 2011. Service-industry jobs provide a living wage and career growth opportunities for a diverse cross-section of Portlanders.
- By bringing visitors to Portland, the Tourism Improvement District increases Transient Lodging Tax revenue – including a contribution to the City's general fund to support community services such as parks, fire and transportation. The general fund contribution totaled $39.1 million in 2018-2019, up from $17.8 million in 2011-2012.
The district is due for a sunset review in 2021. Meanwhile, the global COVID-19 pandemic has devastated tourism: Hotel rooms are vacant, employees are out of work and local businesses have lost significant revenue due to the reduction in visitors. Overall, hotel revenues have dropped about 80 percent compared with 2019.
Leaders from the hotel community have stepped forward again to propose key changes to reflect the district’s success – and help recover from the current crisis by increasing tourism, jobs and tax revenues:
- Continue the fee and eliminate the need for future reviews.
- Impose a 1% Tourism and Hospitality Recovery surcharge, effective July 1, 2021, to help the industry rebound.
- Require surcharge review in 2026 and every five years afterward.
The Portland City Council has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed changes at 9:45 a.m. on March 3, 2021. Submit written testimony or sign up to speak at the meeting.