Orleans tops $100K in bed tax for the first time

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 February 2023 at 8:16 am

New Comfort Inn hotel in Medina, Airbnbs, hotel at Bent’s fuel increase

Photo by Tom Rivers: The new Comfort Inn & Suites in Medina opened on March 18, 2022. This photo shows Medina Sandstone Society members in the lobby and front desk area on March 16 for a tour before the opening.

ALBION – Orleans County exceeded $100,000 in bed tax revenues in 2022 for the first time.

There is a 4 percent occupancy tax on hotel rooms and other lodging. That tax added up to $111,013 in 2022.

That topped the previous record high of $79,102 in 2021. The third most was collected in 2020: $58,438.

The county’s occupancy tax has been trending up, increasing annually in recent years. Besides the past three years the totals include $58,424 in 2019, $51,002 in 2018, and $45,374 in 2017, according to data from the county treasurer’s office.

The county is seeing more short-term vacation rentals such as Airbnbs. A 58-room Comfort Inn & Suites opened on March 18 last year in Medina, giving the county its first branded hotel. Bent’s Opera House also opened 10 hotel rooms in 2021.

Kim DeFrank, the county treasurer, said those new lodging options are the biggest reason for the boost in bed tax.

The county sets aside the bed tax to fund tourism department and initiatives to bring in visitors. The increase in funds allowed the county to hire a sportsfishing coordinator in December 2022, filling a position that had been vacant for nearly five years. Ron Bierstine will promote the county’s top tourism draw of sportsfishing. He will be attending more of fishing shows, including in Pennsylvania and Ohio where the county draws many of its fishing visitors, said Dawn Borchet, the county’s tourism director.

The county also has stepped up its digital advertising on Facebook to promote events in Orleans to attract more visitors to the area, Borchet said.

“The campaigns that we have done on Facebook have increased our traffic on our website and additional requests for brochures on Orleans County to be sent to visitors considering our area,” she said.

The county tourism in 2021 also added a billboard along the Thruway in Batavia, promoting the fishing opportunities in Orleans with salmon and trout. That billboard was paid for over two years with federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Borchet said the billboard gets noticed

“Just this past weekend our office, was at a show in Edison, NJ and we had people come up to the booth, letting us know they noticed the billboard on the NYS Thruway,” she said.

Sportsfishing has a total economic impact of $28 million in Orleans County, according to the NY State DEC Anglers Survey for 2017. Out-of-state anglers account for 70 percent of the fishing economic output in Orleans County, $19,620,488 of the $27,989,393. County residents who fish accounted for $1,767,334 in economic activity while other New York state residents outside Orleans represented another $6,601,571.

The tourism department promotes local festivities, museums and other attractions. Click here to see the county’s tourism website.