Cities Taxing Travelers to Fund Sports Arenas

Article excerpt

THOUGH only 5 percent of 1996 trips included a sporting event, 17 U.S. cities are taxing travelers - or considering it - to pay for new stadiums or arenas, the Travel and Tourism Government Affairs Council says.

"Cities are socking it to travelers either through car rental taxes or hotel taxes - regardless of whether they attend a sports event," Executive Director Aubrey King said. "The customer profile of America's major professional sports venues is largely local residents. The only reason visitors are being asked to bear a disproportionate burden of the funding for stadiums is that they don't vote in your district. The travel and tourism industry does not object to being taxed, but we do object strongly to being taxed unfairly."

The board, which represents the tourism industry viewpoint on legislation and regulatory issues, recently voted to formally oppose all taxes placed on travelers to finance sports venues. Examples cited of places using or considering such taxes are Buffalo, N.Y.; Atlanta; Chicago; Detroit; Houston; San Antonio, Texas; Seattle; New Orleans; Phoenix; Tucson, Ariz.; Anaheim, Calif.; and Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach and Broward County, Fla. - Newsday - Kiosks In London BT, Britain's largest telecommunications company, has installed a network of kiosks in and around London that offer the public electronic information on entertainment and events. A free telephone link in the kiosk enables visitors to book hotels, theater, concert and movie tickets or even to shop or to order flowers. The six-month pilot project, begun in November, will be developed and adjusted according to customer response. The entertainment guide offers exclusive discounts on selected shows and concerts. In addition, British Airways and the travel company Thompson Holidays provide information about their flights and holiday rates. Customers can either print out details for consideration or book on the kiosk phone. Also on line is the British Hotel Reservation Center, an independent organization that books hotels throughout Britain. Foreign currency can be ordered, to be picked up at a nearby Thomas Cook exchange bureau, and trip insurance bought. A street guide from Bartholomews, the publisher, is accessible with printouts available, as well as news, weather, British sports news and even horoscopes, which are provided by the news agency Press Association. The service, which is updated regularly, is currently free. Eventually, users may be charged a fee of about $1 for some services, like printouts. Approximately 80 kiosks have been installed in major shopping areas, tourist sites, travel centers and hotels. Among the locations are London's Guildhall, Old Castle Street, E1; the Cumberland Hotel at Marble Arch; the Tower Hill Pageant; youth hostels at Bolton Gardens in Earls Court and Carter Lane in the City of London; the YMCA at Great Russell Street; Campus Student Travel at Victoria; the BT Museum on Queen Victoria Street, near St. Paul's Cathedral and the Trocadero and Pavilion shopping centers at Piccadilly Circus. - New York Times - New Winter Routes Three airlines are offering new routes to warmer climates this winter. American Airlines, (800) 433-7300, has new nonstop service from Dallas-Fort Worth to San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, and Santiago, Chile. …

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