ASTA claimed victory in its fight against anti-travel agent tax provisions at the state level with the defeat of the Oregon SB 1519. This bill, had it passed, would have imposed occupancy taxes on service fees charged by travel agents and other intermediaries for hotel bookings made in the state, ASTA reports.
“ASTA’s job is to protect travel agents from anti-competitive taxation and ensure a business environment that allows economic growth, especially for the small-business community. Travel agents play a major role in supporting Oregon’s tourism industry and this provision would have driven tourism—a key economic engine—away from the state. With the defeat of this bill, Oregon officials have demonstrated that they understand the vital role travel agents play in the state’s travel and tourism industry and overall economy,” said ASTA CEO Tony Gonchar.
In a letter to members of the Oregon Senate Finance & Revenue Committee, ASTA wrote: "Taxing service fees collected by travel companies creates a disincentive for those companies to spend their valuable resources to bring travelers to Oregon. Travel agents and intermediaries promote travel to Oregon through marketing partnerships, online advertising, and other channels, yet this legislation effectively punishes those companies by establishing a new tax on such travel facilitation, meaning fewer filled hotel rooms, and consequently lower tax revenue. Travel is a key driver of economic vitality. We are deeply concerned that new taxes and regulations will unwittingly act as a drag on Oregon’s economic recovery."
Oregon’s travel agency industry includes 186 retail locations that contribute 960 full-time jobs in the state. Ninety-eight percent of these travel agencies are small businesses that employ less than 49 workers each.