CHARLESTON, W.Va. – When Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed the Tourism Development Act last week, most of the focus centered on the $25 million tax credit it provided for the Greenbrier Resort and a training camp partnership with the New Orleans Saints.
However, other business owners claim the legislation provides an opportunity for all the state’s tourism-reliant companies.
Dave Arnold, a managing partner of Adventures on the Gorge and member of the West Virginia Tourism Commission, said the measure rewards growth.
“Basically what this bill does is allows our investors to have a little more confidence in a project that may be a little bit more risky,” Arnold said. “Especially with seasonal tourism, which we’re in, most investments are fairly risky. You only have about five or six months to make your money back. You’ve really got to put the pedal to the metal.”
The act affords businesses a tax break worth up to 25 percent of the cost of constructing new facilities. Arnold, who spoke at the Capitol during the bill signing, stressed the state isn’t just handing out those dollars.
“We have to earn this. This is incremental revenue. We don’t get this unless we earn it. So if we produce a capital project and it creates revenue, then there’s a sales tax credit.
The Tourism Development Act is based on a successful project in neighboring Kentucky.
“Kentucky had something very, very similar, and we saw it do lots of good things and we are very excited that we have a much better bill,” Arnold said.
Arnold said the incremental revenue can apply to lots of projects from expanding white water rafting companies to building a new ski resort to developing a water park.
“The end result is really simple: This will create a lot of jobs and this will create a lot of tourism dollars,” he said.
The commission reports that tourism is a billion-dollar industry in the state, bringing in millions of visitors to West Virginia annually.