Big events attracting large crowds to Aiken, boosting city’s Hospitality Tax revenue that in turn funds tourism

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – Trick-or-treating, horse races and jubilees, Aiken’s the happening place to be this weekend.

Tourists spending money locally is great for business, but it also creates a new revenue source that goes directly into maintaining touristic sites in Aiken.

New to town? The Aiken Visitors Center might be your first stop.

While preparations for Jack-O-Lantern Jubilee and the annual Fall Steeplechase were underway, tourists were out and about exploring all Aiken County has to offer.

“We do a trolley tour every Saturday morning at 10 and we’ve already turned 8 people away,” said City of Aiken Tourism Coordinator Mary Rosbach. “So that’s one sure way to know that we’ve got lots of people in town.”

Two years ago the city passed the one percent Hospitality Tax, that collects revenue from the sale of food and drinks.

So those out-of-towners, eating the local food and staying in the area, essentially fund tourism expenditures, like updating signs, and tourist attractions.

“A lot of those funds will be going to finish the restoration of the Pullman cars out back,” Rosbach told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

“It all kind of cycles around,” said Aiken Steeplechase Association President Paul Sauerborn. “There is an accommodations tax that we get some money from, for spending money outside of our immediate 50 mile radius.”

Steeplechase, being one of the biggest events in Aiken, attracts nearly 50,000 people between the fall and spring race.

This year, Sauerborn says they heavily advertised the event in the Charleston and Beaufort area.

He tells WJBF NewsChannel 6 it was made possible through revenue generated by the Hospitality Tax.

“So it turns right around to come back to us, to help us to promote community events such as this one,” Sauerborn told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

The 2018 city budget includes $268,000 dollars, generated from the Hospitality Tax, that will fund entryway enhancements, parkway improvements and upgrades to 4 museums.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story.

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