HANNIBAL — Megan Rapp believes everyone should be invested in bringing more people to Hannibal.
Rapp, director of the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau, said not many know that local tourism funds itself or that the out-of-town visitors benefit Hannibal citizens.
Rapp called it the hidden side of tourism; the nitty-gritty numbers that construct the buildings and pay for improvements that keep visitors coming back are what she deals with everyday.
Anything related to tourism comes through a 6% lodging tax which is applied to local hotels, bed and breakfasts, and Airbnbs. The lodging tax is applied for hotel stays up to 30 days and then falls after that.
“The lodging tax is to be used to promote tourism to Hannibal and bring more visitors and enhance visitors’ experience,” she said.
According to Rapp, Hannibal tourism is not part of the general tax fund which means they don’t receive funds that would otherwise go to street improvements, police or fire departments, etc.
“We are a completely different fund that is only funded by visitors who pay for an overnight stay,” she said.
Rapp also mentioned a state marketing grant they apply for to help with advertising, which is typically a 50/50 matching grant.
Tourists are considered anyone who lives at least 50 miles away, so most advertising and efforts to draw in tourism are targeted to those areas. Rapp said this is why many local people do not see some of the work that comes from the HVCB.
Rapp said Hannibal tourism also helps pay for things that many Hannibal residents enjoy.
“They are bringing money in from out of town and leaving it here,” she said. “When they eat out or go to a gas station, or maybe they forgot their charger and run to Walmart, they are spending money here.”
Sales tax from tourists spending money in Hannibal stores, restaurants and more does go into the city’s general fund. This means that tourists are purely profit for the city.
“This can help with the city’s potholes and that kind of thing,” she said. “The city spends nothing but gains revenue.”
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