Hotel/Motel Tax increase should benefit Jones Co. Tourism

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor,

     As a person who has traveled extensively, I have no reason to complain about a little hike in my bill to help get more travelers to a location. Everybody needs to make a living, and if you depend on tourist dollars, it can be a finicky way to make a living! So these tax dollars insure that I get the services I need because there is a steady stream of visitors to insure that.

     Now comes the plan to raise the hotel-motel tax here in Monticello from 5 to 7 percent. Ordinarily I’d say that would be a good thing, but as I understand it, not one cent has gone into Jones County Tourism.

     The interpretation by the city administrator, the law suggests that if we have our own “tourism programs” we don’t have to let go of any of the $17,000 that tourists and people spending time in our facilities have paid in. At the same time, our “tourism program” consists of the Monticello sign on the by-pass most of us don’t even pay attention to and I doubt it really attracts anyone on the face of it. I also note coming from the direction of Dubuque on the by-pass, a sign directing people into Monticello that specifically says “tourist information.” That about does it for signage since I know of no place in our community that offers “tourist information” as a specific thing they do.

     I have gone out on a limb to bring a touring bus to our community that is bringing people from Germany to this community. This is a project that my wife and I have taken a very active role in making happen. Once I got a tour promoter in Germany interested, his first comments were very telling, “I’ve never heard anything about Monticello?” This is from a man who has been taking Germans to Grundy County for a number of years and knew nothing of the German settlement here!

     What we have done with only a little help from the Tourism Office in Anamosa is create a link to Monticello to Germany that may go forward for years to come. For those not thinking this is anything to get excited about, think again! With over 17 rooms booked for two days in one hotel on the edge of Monticello, we are talking thousands of dollars that come into this community when there is no fair or any major attraction. It is the thing that keeps restaurants and retail business open.

     Now wouldn’t it make sense that if we are raising that tax, we spend it on promotions that reach half way around the world to bring people here rather than a funky old sign that requires you to be here in order to even see it?

     This county entertains people from all over the world all the time, isn’t it about time we get beyond who has the tourism office and whether we support something that helps get those people into “our” community as well as the rest of Iowa?

     Tell your council person you support the increase in the tax, but let’s get some skin in the game and support the Jones County Tourism Office with that money rather than sit on it.

Steve Hanken

Monticello, Iowa



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