Why Georgia's $5 hotel fee may be here to stay

Georgia hospitality heavyweights have their work cut out for them if they want to soften the sting of a new nightly $5 fee tacked on to hotel and motel stays to fund transportation improvements. Success could be at the core of their dilemma.

Gov. Nathan Deal said he has a hard time believing warnings that the new fees could sway visitors to go elsewhere after the Georgia tourism industry shattered records in 2015.

The last tourism report we could find landed in May, before the new fees took effect, though Deal's office said it recently received new numbers.

"We’re still in the early stages of seeing what kind of revenue is driven by it," he said of the package of fees and taxes adopted last year. "Hotels and motels have had the busiest and most productive year ever. So obviously it does not seem to have any detrimental effect on tourists in our state.”

The hospitality industry has launched a behind-the-scenes campaign to scale back the fee this year and outlined plans to up political donations. But they had to play catch-up after they were blindsided by the fee.

House and Senate leaders struck a late deal to attach it to a broader transportation package that would funnel more than $900 million each year into road and bridge repairs. Read plenty more about the plan here. 

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.