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Bellevue tourism industry nearly back to pre-pandemic levels

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(The Center Square) – Last year, Bellevue’s tourism industry completed a near-total recovery to pre- COVID-19 pandemic levels as the city continues to advance its tourism promotion initiative.

According to a Monday presentation to the Bellevue City Council, the number of total overnight visitors went from 1.4 million in 2022 to 1.8 million in 2023. Year-over-year hotel room nights booked in Bellevue more than doubled. In 2022, there were 12,096 total hotel rooms booked. Last year, that bumped to 27,935.

Tourist spending generated $552.8 million throughout Bellevue in 2023 – a 35.5% increase from the $407.9 million generated in 2022.

The Bellevue City Council will be presented with a final draft agreement this month that would set up a tourism promotion area for five years. It would include a $2.50 per night fee at hotels in Bellevue and Redmond. Collected funds would be kept separately between the two cities.

If the agreement is passed, fee collections would begin in July.

The Center Square reached to city officials to ask if short-term rentals such as Airbnbs would also be subjected to the $2.50 fee, but did not receive a response at the time of this publication.

Last October, the Bellevue City Council was briefed on the Bellevue-Redmond Tourism Promotion Area’s inaugural budget and work plan that set its target for overnight visitors at 2.4 million in 2025. ​​Projected revenues are estimated to be $3.5 million in the first year, with $2.5 million coming from Bellevue.

The city expects revenue to likely increase year after year as tourism is promoted within the area. The resulting increase in visitor spending is expected to have a net positive impact on the hotel occupancy tax, sales tax, and admissions tax.

Bellevue’s sets various tax rates related to tourism. This includes a special hotel-motel tax of 3% for up to 59 rooms; a Bellevue convention center tax of 3% for 60 or more rooms; and a state convention center tax set at 2.8% for 60 or more rooms.

The hotel-motel tax is estimated to total $10.1 million in 2023 and $11.9 million in 2024, according to the city budget.

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