SPI Leaders Discuss Venue Tax

Local News

The New Year brings in a new venue tax throughout Cameron County.

Today South Padre Island business owners discuss how the tax affects them.

 “Dear South Padre Island Visitor…We appreciate you and your decision to join us in paradise.”

Those are some of the opening remarks for a letter announcing a venue tax.

Susan Guthrie – SPI City Manager, “[this] is a 2% increase in the hotel occupancy tax and this venue tax will be used for special projects.”

Some of the Proposed projects are an amphitheater off of Isla Blanca Park and a nature tourism center.

Voters across Cameron County voted for it on the November 8th election.

“A majority of voters voted in favor of adding this venue tax because it is only a tax on people coming here to visit,” says Guthrie, “It’s not a tax on those who already live here.”

The venue tax may create attractions that bring in more people in the long term. In the short term however, business owners are worried that visitors are cancelling their reservations.

Lamanzor Perez – Service 24 Condominium Rentals says, “In the last years, for different reasons, during spring break we lose reservations from people from Mexico. Right now it’s more cheap to go to Mexico… Maybe we lose more reservations this year.” 

Before this venue tax, occupancy tax was 14.5 percent. This was raised to 16.5. Now business owners are confused by another tax that brings the total to the maximum allowed 17%.

“Imagine you call a guest today and explain ‘it’s 2 percent more’ then you call again in three weeks, ‘well it’s 0.5 percent more’ it’s hard. It’s hard,” says Perez.

This letter has been sent out to visitors who had reservations for 2017 prior to the tax implementation date of January 1st 2017. It warns visitors of potential increases.

Business owners and visitors can call south padre city hall for more information.

The city plans to reach out to Cameron County officials to discuss the 0.5 percent tax. 

Here’s a transcription of the letter sent to visitors. (Underline Formatting Added)

December 28, 2016

Dear South Padre Island Visitor,

Thank you for choosing to visit South Padre Island. We greatly appreciate you and your decision to join us in paradise. We strive to provide visitors and tourists with the best that South Padre Island has to offer and shall continue to do so in the future.

To continue to improve the Island as a vacation destination, the citizens of South Padre Island recently passed a venue Tax Proposition that has increased Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax Rate by two percent. The money from the venue tax will be used to develop amenities to make our destination island even more desirable.

Because you may have made your reservation before the implementation of this venue tax, your host may need to collect the extra funds. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience; however state law precludes us from grandfathering this tax.

Again, thank you for your patronage. We know you will fall in love with South Padre Island as we all have.


Susan Guthrie

City Manager

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