Before the new law, the state collected a 10% hotel tax and distributed a share to each county. Now, the counties can levy their own surcharge to the tax and keep the money for local needs.
The bill would stop funding the tourism agency with money raised by the transient accommodations tax. Lawmakers intend to pay for the agency with money from the general fund, though for the current fiscal year they appropriated federal coronavirus relief funds.
“This will help tremendously,” said Maui County Council Chair Alice Lee.
Lee said that will bring Maui nearly triple the revenue, Hawaii News Now reported Thursday.
“Instead of $23 million, we’ll probably receive in the neighborhood of $50 to $70 million,” Lee said.
Maui has seen a sharp increase in tourism since pandemic restrictions have eased.
State Rep. Sylvia Luke, the House Finance Chair, said under the old system, Oahu got the bulk of the money because it is the most populous island in the state. Now counties will be receive money based on how many visitors they get.