Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and San Juan Islands enjoy popularity – and lodging tax revenue
- Feb 15, 2018 | Jennifer Sokolowsky
More than $3 million in lodging tax revenue was generated in the North Olympic Peninsula in 2017, driven in part by strong visitation to Olympic National Park. Increased visitors to the region could mean greater opportunities for short-term rental operators.
Unincorporated Clallam County and Forks, Port Angeles, and Sequim generated a total of $2.06 million in lodging taxes last year, a 13.6 percent increase from 2016, while Port Townsend and unincorporated Jefferson County produced $1 million in lodging tax revenue last year, 9 percent more than in 2016. Total North Olympic Peninsula visitor spending generated $27.5 million in state and local taxes in 2016, up 9 percent from 2015.
Port Townsend generated more than $500,000 from lodging taxes last year, a record for the city. Earlier this year, the City Council unanimously approved a budget for 2018 that allocates $500,000 in lodging tax funds for community marketing and promotion, as well as tourism-related infrastructure.
As of October 2017, Olympic National Park had nearly 3.2 million visits, following a record 3.3 million visits in 2016, the National Park Service’s centennial year. Olympic was ranked as the seventh most-visited national park in the United States that year.
In Washington state, short-term rentals are subject to a combined sales tax made up of the 6.5 percent state sales tax and varying local sales taxes. Short-term accommodations are also subject to local lodging taxes, which range from between 1 percent and 5 percent depending on location.
Airbnb collects these taxes on behalf of its hosts in Washington state, but hosts who use other booking platforms, such as HomeAway or VRBO, are responsible for collecting and remitting these taxes themselves. Many rely on MyLodgeTax to file on their behalf.
According to a recent report from nearby San Juan County, nearly 900 vacation rentals are available in the San Juan Islands through Airbnb and VRBO. On Orcas Island, vacation rentals are the most common type of short-term accommodations, while hotels are most common on San Juan Island and campsites are most common on Lopez. The results of the study could be used in the future to allocate lodging tax funds.