Orange County Hotel “Bed Tax” Revenue Projected for All-Time High
The Tourist Development Tax, or so-called “bed tax” on Orange County hotels, is expected this year to bring $225 million dollars, the most money in its history.
The six percent levy pays for museums, tourism promotion, and venues like the Orange County Convention Center, Amway Center, and the Citrus Bowl.
County business manager Fred Winterkamp thanks Orlando’s record 62 million tourists last year for contributing to the tax revenue hike from hotels.
“We’ve added rooms recently,” he said. “You know, some big properties have come online at Universal Studios. Our occupancy rate is well above 80% and we’ve seen some price increases, as well, because there’s so much demand for rooms right now.”
The statewide tax was started in 1978 to pay for tourism development. About 30% of the state’s total bed tax revenue comes from Orange County.
But critics say some of the money should go to Orange County Public Schools and the police and fire departments.
Winterkamp equates the tourist development tax with the orange tax. One if meant for tourism, he said. And the other, for oranges.
“That’s used for all those commercials you see. ‘Drink Florida Orange juice’….where they stick their arm in the tree,” he said. “Nobody is suggesting we pay for police and fire out of that. There isn’t, I don’t think, a lot of legislative support for that.”
Last year, Orange County generated $201 million in “bed tax” revenue.
The hotel levy began in 1978 following a state mandate. The tax percentage varies county by county.
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