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Increased Awareness Causes Reduced Support for the Occupancy Tax Legislation;
HEDNA Retracts Support  for the Internet Travel Tax Fairness Act

Opposition To Proposal Grows As Bill’s Details Become Known
 
Washington, D.C., April 7, 2010 –  The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) noted this week that the Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA) clarified in a new letter that it does not support  the “Internet Travel Tax Fairness Act” (ITTFA), a bill opposed by AH&LA.  This news accompanies the expansion of the broad lodging industry coalition opposing this legislation, which added the Hospitality Asset Managers Association last week as a partner.
 
“While support for this unfair proposal shrinks as details of it become known, the coalition opposing it continues to grow,” said Marlene Colucci, AH&LA executive vice president for public policy.  “These developments show that as more industry members find out the truth about what this proposed bill will do to them and their profitability, they realize opposing this legislation is the right thing to do.”
 
HEDNA clarified its position on ITTFA after it was listed as a signatory on a March 29 open letter drafted by the Interactive Travel Services Association.  While the open letter did not cite the specific legislation, its content could be inferred as an endorsement of it. HEDNA said that because its membership has differing views on the legislation, it would take a “strictly neutral” position on supporting the proposed bill.  “While HEDNA believes that the lodging industry is a vital part of the economy that should be promoted,” stated Valerie Cooper, HEDNA executive director, in the letter, “we cannot endorse ITTFA as a means to that end.”
 
This change came in response to increased awareness by major segments of the lodging industry that the ITTFA represents a threat to their businesses.  The proposed ITTFA legislation would preempt state and local governments’ authority to collect hotel occupancy taxes on rooms that are booked through online travel companies (OTCs).  The OTCs are promoting ITTFA in Congress, which would in all likelihood result in higher taxes being imposed on  hotel properties and guests to make up for the budget shortfalls in state and local governments caused the legislation.
 
HEDNA’s retraction follows the latest in a continuing series of retractions by those listed in ITSA-generated materials who have stated support for ITTFA.  Several signatories of a January 2009 letter written and circulated by ITSA that cited support for ITTFA but did not include specifics of the legislation have since joined AH&LA in opposing the legislation.   When initially presented with the letter, the signatories were not informed of the specific content of the legislation nor of the potential threats to the lodging industry if it were enacted into law.  After learning of the actual legislative language and risk to the lodging industry, several who signed the letter have since sent their own letters strongly opposing the legislation and have requested their names be removed from ITSA’s materials.
 
The Hospitality Asset Managers Association, an organization of professional industry individuals who are dedicated to the enhancement of hotel and hospitality asset values, asked to be added as a signatory to the March 19 letter from AH&LA and others opposing the ITTFA.
 
To read a copy of the March 29 HEDNA letter, please visit www.hedna.org.  To read a copy of the March 19 letter from AH&LA, visit www.ahla.com/government.
 
Serving the hospitality industry for a century, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) is the sole national association representing all sectors and stakeholders in the lodging industry, including individual hotel property members, hotel companies, student and faculty members, and industry suppliers. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AH&LA provides members with national advocacy on Capitol Hill, public relations and image management, education, research and information, and other value-added services to provide bottom-line savings and ensure a positive business climate for the lodging industry. Partner state associations provide local representation and additional cost-saving benefits to members.  For more about AH&LA and its 2010 centennial anniversary, visit www.ahla.com.
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Contact: 

Robert Baylor
rbaylor@ahla.com 

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Also See: AH&LA Expresses Strong Opposition to Draft Legislation Known as the Internet Travel Tax Fairness Act / Issues Brief and Talking Points / March 2010
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