Hotelier: We still need law guaranteeing tourism funding
HUNTERSVILLE – Officials with three north Mecklenburg towns and Visit Lake Norman are apparently close to agreeing on wording for a new operating agreement that would bind all three towns for the life of the contract.
But Vinay Patel, the hotelier leading the effort to guarantee income to Visit Lake Norman through state law, told business and town leaders last week the tourism agency still needs state legislation to do the best job possible.
Patel, who is a member of the boards of Visit Lake Norman and the Greater Charlotte Hospitality and Tourism Alliance, urged other business people to press lawmakers to approve House Bill 508, which would guarantee Visit Lake Norman 28 percent of hotel-motel taxes and 25 percent of prepared-food taxes that come back to Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson.
Currently, Visit Lake Norman gets funding through a three-year interlocal agreement with the three towns. At the Cornelius town board meeting Monday, May 16, Mayor Pro Tem Lynette Rinker said the three towns and Visit Lake Norman are close to settling on terms of a new interlocal agreement. Huntersville Town Manager Greg Ferguson told his board the same thing.
Significantly, the proposed agreement eliminates a clause present in previous agreements that allowed any town to withdraw from the arrangement at any time, Rinker said Tuesday. The new proposal doesn’t allow the towns to withdraw and could stretch longer than the current three years, Rinker said.
Knowing it will have funding beyond three years is important to business leaders. Patel said House Bill 508 would allow Visit Lake Norman officials to bid for bigger events, such as the international Ironman Competition, because they could commit money to such projects five or more years in advance. Competitions like Ironman – a grueling competition combining a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike race and marathon, which is 26.2 miles – require potential host sites to bid to host the event for three to five years at a time.
“The Ironman has huge potential for this area,” said Patel, whose company operates two motels in the Lake Norman area. “The Ironman could be for Lake Norman what the Democratic National Convention is for Charlotte.”