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An ordinance will be introduced at the Oklahoma City Council meeting on May 7 proposing a citywide election to increase the hotel tax from 5.50% to 9.25%.

The tax is charged to people who stay overnight in a hotel or rent a home-sharing property in OKC.

City Council is expected to hold a public hearing for the ordinance on May 14 and vote on the proposal May 21. If the ordinance passes, a citywide election will be held Aug. 27.

The last time Oklahoma City residents considered a hotel tax increase was in 2004, and it passed with 89.4% approval.

If the election passes, the 3.75% increase is projected to bring in an additional $11.6 million, which will be allocated as follows:

  • 75% Tourism Promotion, direct funding to promote and/or foster the convention and/or tourism (visitor) development of OKC.
  • 13.3% Event Sponsorships.
  • 6.7% OKC Fairgrounds for improvements, not including operational costs.
  • 5% OKC Convention Center for improvements, not including operational costs.

The hotel tax is currently 5.5% and is distributed as follows:

  • 55% OKC Fairgrounds for improvements, not including operational costs.
  • 36% Tourism Promotion, direct funding to promote and/or foster the convention and/or tourism (visitor) development of OKC.
  • 9% Event Sponsorships.

The 9.25% hotel tax would be in addition to the 4.5% state sales tax and the 4.125% City sales tax, for 17.875%. If passed, the new rate will take effect Oct. 1, 2024.

“Tourism is a vital part of OKC’s economy and Visit OKC is proud to be the driving force behind growing and promoting our visitor experiences,” Visit Oklahoma City President Zac Craig said. “OKC has invested billions in world-class infrastructure and facilities, but we need to also scale our destination marketing efforts as we compete with larger peer cities to attract leisure, convention and sports visitors.”

When considering hotel tax and assessments at checkout, Oklahoma City lags behind peer cities, as well as smaller markets such as Tulsa and Wichita:

Memphis        19.75%

San Antonio   19%

Kansas City   18.35%

Austin             17%

Tulsa              16.52%

Wichita           16.25%

OKC               14.13% (currently)

How the funding will be used

Visit OKC’s tourism promotion efforts bring conventions, sporting events and leisure travelers to fill hotel rooms, restaurants and facilities.

“Tourism employs 1 in 20 locals and is the third largest industry in the state, with Oklahoma City leading the way in visitation and economic impact,” City Manager Craig Freeman said. “Thanks to investments we’ve made through MAPS, tourism is now a significant and growing aspect of our economy.”

This additional funding would be used to attract more visitors by scaling advertising and marketing efforts and supporting large events and festivals. A portion of the funds would also be used to improve the OKC Fairgrounds and OKC Convention Center, which are anchor venues for national and international equine, sporting events and conventions that draw millions of visitors annually.

“Oklahoma City’s hotel room tax helps our City thrive by attracting national conventions and sporting events, and providing support for our venues and visitor services,” City Manager Craig Freeman added. “It’s been 20 years since the tax was adjusted and 52 years since we’ve increased funding for tourism promotion specifically. This update allows us to better keep pace with OKC’s growth and our competitive peer set of destinations.”

History of OKC’s Hotel Tax

In 1972, the voters of Oklahoma City approved a “room tax” of two percent to provide a source of dedicated revenue to promote conventions and tourism in Oklahoma City. In December 2004, Oklahoma City residents approved a 3.5% increase for an event sponsorship fund (0.5 cents) and OKC Fairgrounds improvements (3 cents), bringing the current hotel tax total to 5.5%. The approved rate took effect in 2005.