All lodging tax revenues must be used for tourism promotion, acquisition of tourism-related facilities, or operation of tourism-related facilities (RCW 67.28.1815 and RCW 67.28.1816), including:
- Tourism marketing;
- Marketing and operations of special events and festivals designed to attract tourists;
- Operations and capital expenditures of tourism-related facilities owned or operated by a municipality or a public facilities district; or
- Operations of tourism-related facilities owned or operated by nonprofit organizations (but not capital expenditures).
Counties may use the funds either directly, or indirectly through a convention and visitor’s bureau or destination marketing organization. Chapter 67.28 RCW demonstrates that it was the state legislative intent to provide local control over the use of lodging tax revenues and to provide for the distribution of this tax back to those organizations and agencies that promote tourism within the county. Definitions are provided in RCW 67.28.080. Of particular note are the following definitions:
- “Tourism promotion” means activities, operations, and expenditures designed to increase tourism, including but not limited to advertising, publicizing, or otherwise distributing information for the purpose of attracting and welcoming tourists; developing strategies to expand tourism; operating tourism promotion agencies, and funding the marketing of or the operation of special events and festivals designed to attract tourists.
- “Tourism-related facility” means real or tangible personal property with a usable life of three or more years, or constructed with volunteer labor that is (a) (i) Owned by a public entity; (ii) owned by a nonprofit organization described under section 501(c)(3) of the federal internal revenue code of 1986, as amended; or (iii) owned by a nonprofit organization described under section 501(c)(6) of the federal internal revenue code of 1986, as amended, a business organization, destination marketing organization, main street organization, lodging association or chamber of commerce and (b) used to support tourism, performing arts, or to accommodate tourist activities.