Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association (GPHA) is 100 percent supportive of
the expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
It will allow us to compete for those groups who have outgrown the
existing center and with the new centers in D.C. and Boston. It allows
sufficient size to handle gate shows like the Auto and Flower Show while
simultaneously hosting a citywide convention which benefits the hotel, and
entire hospitality community.
The GPHA does not support an additional occupancy tax as the means of
funding the expansion. A room tax increase from 14% to 15% would place
Philadelphia above Washington D.C., New York City, Boston and Baltimore,
our primary competitions.
Research has shown that room tax increases negatively effect city
occupancies, which we can ill afford, and could further reduce city and
state tax revenues. Therefore we do not support any additional room
We believe that a tax increase delivers a poor message to the meeting
planners which we are currently trying to win back from years of poor
service and high costs at the Convention Center.
A more appropriate funding stream would be through the non-dedicated
revenues associated with the proposed casinos and/or slot parlors. Capital
funding for the expansion was deleted from the recently passed
Commonwealth budget with no expectation that this be discussed again
before February 2004.
Late in December 2003 Philadelphia City Council voted to request that the
Governor provide initial funding for land acquisition for the Pennsylvania
Convention Center expansion. We are 100 percent behind this action as it
will reduce overall expansion costs, keep landowners from improving these
properties for personal gain, and reduce other preliminary costs
associated with expansion. We want to encourage full funding be approved
to insure a 2009 or 2010 completion date.