Big Sky wants its own marketing push
BIG SKY, Montana ” About $500,000 collected through resort taxes should be spent on nationwide marketing of Big Sky to “stop the downward spiral of our visitor patterns experienced this winter,” the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce says.
A five-person board will decide in June how to allocate money from the resort taxes.
“I don’t want to paint a picture that we are in more of a crisis than anywhere else, but we’re feeling it,” Chamber of Commerce executive Marne Hayes said. “If we’re looking at just our bed (lodging) tax, for the overall year we were down 8 percent.”
Since 1992, a Big Sky sales tax known informally as a resort tax has been added to such purchases as gifts and restaurant meals. Montana does not have a general sales tax, but resort areas have the option of imposing sales taxes if voters approve. Permitted uses of the money include marketing a location to tourists.
In a message to its members, the Chamber of Commerce says $250,000 could go toward a new winter marketing campaign that would brand Big Sky as a “must-ski destination.” Another $208,000 would be put toward sustaining current marketing campaigns.
The $458,000 total is more than double the highest previous request for marketing, Hayes said.
“Action must be taken not only to stop the downward spiral of our visitor patterns experienced this winter and projected to continue next year, but also to build a growth pattern of skier days and first-time visitor days, which directly increase revenues at all businesses,” the chamber wrote in a letter to members.
Big Sky Resort, Moonlight Basin, the Club at Spanish Peaks, the Yellowstone Club and Big Sky’s Town Center have agreed to match 20 percent of a resort-tax outlay for winter marketing.
There is competition for resort-tax money.
Last week, the Big Sky board that will decide on June 11 how to spend the funds heard from 37 entities seeking dollars. Applicants include the public library and the fire department. Board Chairman Al Malinowski said the panel is sifting through information.
A final calculation of the latest figure for tax collections has not been done, but Malinowski said the number likely will be below the roughly $2.2 million for the previous reporting period.
“We’re certainly going to have more requests this year than we will have dollars to spend,” he said.
A survey showed a good bit of support for local government action to bolster workforce housing in town. For now though, that support stops at supporting a new tax for funding.