House Bill 613 could put a serious dent in the way Natchitoches is able to market itself to tourists as one of the premiere destinations in Louisiana.
While the present law creates special treasury funds that dedicate a portion of the state sales tax on the furnishing of sleeping rooms, cottages, or cabins by hotels collected in each parish and provide for the use of the dedicated funds, the proposed law repeals them all special treasury funds that receive a portion of the state sales and use tax on the furnishing of hotel rooms.
“We’re facing D-Day,” said Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission (NHDDC) member David Stamey. “It’s a situation that puts us in a bad situation.”
If the “Visitor Enterprise” Fund is cut, the NHDDC stands to lose 100 percent of its budget ($319,165).
“It’s a tough deal,” said Stamey. “If it were to happen for a year or two it would put the NHDDC out of business for a time. Even if it’s only cut in half, it still means we’d have to look closely at our current obligations.”
The Natchitoches Area Convention and Visitors Bureau stands to lose 20 percent of its budget ($107,463), according to Executive Director Arlene Gould. There’s $50 million between all the Visitor Enterprise Funds in the state.
Tourist Commission Chairman Randy Ziegler understands this fund may be considered an “easy fix” for the state’s economic shortfalls, but tourism counts for a large amount of revenue in the state and Natchitoches.
“Just because it may be the easiest thing to cut doesn’t make it the smartest thing to do,” he said. “If we allow our tourism industry to slip, it would take too long to build it back up. The governor should consider this. Losing momentum and all previous efforts to get us to this point would be wasted.”
While the NHDDC feels it’s still early to make any kind of decisions because their fiscal year starts July 1, they’ll have more knowledge toward the end of June. The commission put off their budget talk for April because of this pending legislation.
“We may have to start the year off and do our budget based on what we’re going to get,” said Stamey. “It may be premature.”