Could a pending bill spark a new War of the Roses?

Some of our friends east of the Susquehanna River seem to think so.

House Bill 1177, which has passed the Senate and House, finally would allow York County to raise its hotel tax from 3 percent to 5 percent.

This is something our local delegation, the county commissioners and tourism officials have been working on for three years.

The tax — paid by those who rent rooms in the county — currently generates about $1.5 million a year, and the increase would boost that by another $1 million annually.

The revenue would be used to promote our local tourism industry, including funds designated for the York Expo Center, Rail Trail and other local attractions.

The bill itself doesn't raise the tax — it only allows the York County commissioners to do so if they choose.

And they've indicated they will choose — and gladly.

While visitors pay the hotel tax, the money is pumped back into the local economy.

The increase, for instance, will allow the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau to "be more nimble and opportunistic" in attracting tourism money to the county, said president Anne Druck.

It's not like we'd be way out of line, either.

Neighboring Lancaster, Dauphin and Adams counties already have a 5 percent hotel tax.

Still, the prospect of an even playing field seems to have tourism officials nervous in Lancaster County, where the lion's share of its hotel tax now shores up a struggling convention center.


"If York is advertising in the same markets we are, then it follows that a potential rise in their marketing efforts, coupled with a flat or decreased marketing budget for us, could have a detrimental effect on our share of the region's visitor numbers," Kathleen Frankford, president of the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau, told Lancaster Online.

We understand the concern, especially in Lancaster County, where 11 percent of the workforce is employed in the tourism industry, according to the news website.

But we're all in this together, and what's good for York County also helps our neighbors to both the east and the west.

Tourists who visit Gettysburg, for instance, are just a short hop from our nation's first capital and then only a short drive to Amish country.

It seems to us the three counties shouldn't be competing for visitors at all.

We should be pooling our resources to market our entire region as the destination with the most bang for the tourist's buck.