Whisenant: tourist in Town are ‘temporary taxpayers’

A crash course on “temporary taxpayers” was received last week by Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen during a pre-Board meeting workshop.

“You can think of tourists as temporary taxpayers,” said John Whisenant, director of Tourism for the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association, who led a power point presentation Thursday, Oct. 24, having been invited to address the Board by Vice Mayor Louise Povlin.

Whisenant explained a dollar spent in Farragut has the potential to be multiplied up to seven times.

“Tourism is the temporary movement of people — people who come here, give you their money and then go home,” he said, noting tourism is a $19 billion dollar industry in Tennessee — second only to agriculture.

“Tourism is economic development in its purest form. You don’t have to build infrastructure. It creates jobs and is a tax generator,” he added.

Whisenant did say his organization is “not a fan of lodging taxes,” which is something the Town’s Tourism Advisory Board recently voted to recommend to BOMA for consideration, earmarking the funds strictly for tourism, if approved.

“But I am not here to advocate for or against. What we do ask if you do (enact it) is to make sure it doesn’t have a negative impact on businesses.”

He described a variety of types of tourism, from medical tourism, where people travel for health treatments, to business travel, vacation and leisure travel, and also mentioned one form of tourism results when family members visit each other from out of town.

“Tourism is typically a mix, but you have to have something that attracts people, such as parks, gaming venues, museums, galleries or national historical sites for example,” he said.

Whisenant also pointed out the need to “have a plan in place, on how to grow tourism. You also need a strategic plan, and a marketing plan.

“You need to start with what you want to be, and what you want to achieve,” he added.

Additionally, “It is critical for success that you get the citizens on board, and the government has to be supportive,” he said.

“If you have a dog in the tourism hunt, we want to help you.”

In other business, BOMA ...

• voted to approve the new CommunityCcenter fee rates as presented by Town Parks & Recreation director Sue Stuhl, which will go into effect next February, after the Community Center opens. Stuhl added the smallest of the three new classrooms will not be available for rental at first; it is needed for temporary storage;

• unanimously approved annual memorandum of Understanding with Shop Farragut/ Farragut Business Alliance;

• unanimously approved on first reading a new ordinance permitting the sales and distribution of alcohol on portions of Town property, including the new Community Center, Campbell Station Inn and Town Hall.