As a restaurant owner and operator in the Shreveport-Bossier area, I have had the privilege of helping with and enjoying the benefits that tourism to our area brings. Shreveport-Bossier and the surrounding communities have more than 300 franchised and local restaurants that serve breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. These numerous eateries provide a bountiful variety to choose from for our locals and out-of-town visitors.
Shreveport-Bossier also has over 10,000 hotel rooms and on any given day, more than 10,500 of overnight guests will eat out for at least two of their three meals during their visit to our area. That is more than 7,665,000 meals annually served by our local restaurants and at an average of $12 a meal, that is a direct impact of $91,980,000 from our overnight visitors alone.
One of the entities that would receive the funds is the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission, an organization that I personally have partnered with on many events. The Sports Commission has continuously proved themselves worthy of receiving these funds and will use them to bring even more sports events to our area as we become more desirable for sports tourism. With more sports events, this will spur investments in our venues, parks and sports facilities for year-round enjoyment by residents and visitors. And the great thing about all of this is that it doesn’t cost our citizens anything. Unless you stay overnight in a hotel, motel, cabin, RV or campsite, you will never pay this tax.
The Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission has had an economic impact of more than $40 million in the past four years throughout Bossier and Caddo Parishes. Sporting events recruited by the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission, such as USA Wakeboard Nationals, Regions 3D Archery Tournament and the Fishers of Men Regional Fishing Tournament, create jobs and produce an economic impact that spreads throughout Bossier and Caddo Parishes. As a business owner and operator, we count on tourism dollars, and having even more events spread out over the year can help my bottom line and enable us to hire more employees. It also allows my business and my employees to make an impact on our community in positive ways.
I also have great working relationships with the Independence Bowl Foundation and the Ark-La-Tex Regional Air Service Alliance (RASA). These two entities, along with the Sports Commission, will equally split the proposed 1.5% increase in the occupancy tax. These additional two entities also play important roles in our tourism economy. Without air service to our area, we would not be enjoying the tourism we have now, but just think how many more visitors we can bring in if we have more carriers and more flights coming into our area. And that is exactly what RASA will do with the funds it receives – they will seek out more routes and flights which will in turn create more competition and drive down prices—a win for everyone!
Since 1976, our area has been proud to host the Independence Bowl, which is our tribute to the many men and women who have served our country. We are blessed to have a collegiate bowl game and to have it go to the wayside would be a travesty and an economic blow to our economy. The Independence Bowl allows Shreveport-Bossier to be in the national spotlight for four hours each December. It brings in visitors who may not have ever heard of Shreveport-Bossier, Louisiana and allows people like me the chance to showcase all we have to offer. But most of all it allows us to show our honor and respect to our military. That reason alone is worth every penny gathered from the occupancy tax increase!
When you go to vote on November 21st, you will see the hotel-motel occupancy proposition on the ballot. I support the proposition because I understand the value of what the Sports Commission, the Independence Bowl and RASA can bring to our area, and not only for the restaurant industry, but the hotels, the retail, the casinos and the transportation industries as well. Join me on November 21st in voting YES for the hotel occupancy proposition. It’s a good thing for all of us!
Owner of Silver Star Smokehouse
Bossier City, LA