Springfield works to boost tourism, generate sales tax revenue

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 8:42 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Springfield is working to boost local tourism and rebound from losses tied to the pandemic.

The city gets about 35 percent of the money it spends each year through sales tax.

A good portion of that comes from the money people spend while visiting the area. However, things changed when the pandemic hit.

Now, the process of rebuilding is happening, including working to get a huge source of the local economy back.

“We have to look realistically at what we’re able to sustain on an ongoing basis,” said Finance Director David Holtmann.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused all of us, including Springfield city leaders to take a hard look at our spending.

“We thought we were going to see a decline of about 6 percent in our sales tax collection. That was based on the fact that things were shutting down,” said Holtmann.

He says sales tax revenue grew about 2.5 percent. That’s comparable to non-pandemic years despite a large financial set back.

“Our hotel motel tax was down almost 50 percent compared to the year prior,” he said.

“If you had told me or asked me six months ago if we were going to be in the position that we’re in right now I would have thought you were nuts. We’re seeing a very healthy turnaround,” said Tracy Kimberlin, President and CEO of the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau.

He says an advertising campaign paid for by federal grant funding last year seems to have paid off.

“Right now almost all of the overnight travel is leisure travel,” said Kimberlin.

He says about $2.5 million dollars will be spent this year to make sure those tourists will be coming back.

“Frankly we’re in much shape than many of our peers around the country. We feel very fortunate to be in that position,” he said.

The money they will spend will generate the sales tax to continue to help Springfield pay the bills on services the community relies on.

“We think we’re going to rebuild and be in a position to see slow, steady, normal growth. I think we’re in a good place for it right now,” said Holtmann.

Meetings and conventions are expected to start returning this summer.

Springfield is looking ahead, working on next year’s budget. Work shops are happening now through the end of June.

If you want to see that process and look at what’s being proposed click on this link.

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