The Maine Tourism Association apparently believes that Maine cannot absorb a 1 percentage point increase in the lodging tax and remain competitive with New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts, as if people planning vacation destinations look at the lodging tax as a major deciding factor.

People look at the overall cost of a vacation. Lodging taxes are a tiny fraction of the expense. For the sake of simplicity, consider the cost of a room at $200 per night. Current state tax, at 9 percent, is $18. The proposed tax rate at 10 percent would be $20; a difference of $2 per night for a five-night stay is $10.

“Sorry, Martha, we can’t go to our favorite place in Maine this year – the room tax just went up $2 per night. Let’s see what the room tax is in the rest of New England.”

How far do you expect this conversation would go? I understand the knee-jerk opposition by lobbyists to tax increases that affect their constituencies. However, room rates do not have to change. A 1 percentage point increase in the lodging tax could be passed on by small and family-owned hotels and motels and hardly anyone would notice, particularly in popular tourist towns and by expense-account business travelers.

People visit Maine because they want to vacation here, conduct business or have personal reasons. A 1 point increase in the lodging tax will not keep them away.

Maine must collect revenue, and this proposed increase is a common-sense way to allow visitors to contribute to the financial support of Maine and improve the experience of residents and visitors alike. Maine doesn’t have to be a cheap date.

Tom Foley

Cumberland Foreside

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