Aspen lodging tax to be used for marketing 

Starting Jan. 1 this year it got just a tad more expensive to stay in Aspen, but the town could benefit in the long run.

The high-end resort, one of Whistler’s key competitors for destination visitors, approved a one per cent tax on short-term lodging in November last year.

The bed tax kicked in as the town rang in the new year and, according to reports out of the Aspen Times , it is expected to generate about $500,000 in annual income that will be used to market Aspen.

The tax is also expected to generate an additional $500,000 annually that has been earmarked for mass transit use.

A newly-formed marketing advisory group, spearheaded by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, was expected to meet Jan. 4 to begin devising a strategy to better market the resort.

According to the Times, the first step is to assess the market efforts that already exist in Aspen including the plans of the resort association, Skico and the Aspen Sales Directors Association.

The service and retail sectors are also represented in the advisory group.

A significant pool of revenue from the new tax is expected to accrue only after about nine months. The resort association is thus aiming to have a marketing strategy and budget in place by early next fall.

The first marketing efforts are expected to coincide with the 2001- 2002 ski season.

The city will need to approve the strategy and an annual appropriation but it will maintain a hands-off approach to the nuts and bolts of the marketing plan.

Part of the strategy will be targeted to boost business at Aspen’s small lodges, many of which are struggling. Operators of the smaller lodges were the most vocal opponents of the tax claiming it would hurt them the most and help them the least.

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