THLA Receives Award of Excellence for 2023 Governmental Affairs Program
In December, THLA was honored with an “Award of Excellence” from the International Society of Hotel Associations (ISHA) for THLA’s work on economic development incentives for hotel projects and convention center districts in the 2023 Legislative Session.
ISHA presents an Award of Excellence annually to the state hotel association in the United States and Canada with the legislative program that most positively affects the hotel industry.
The award commended THLA’s work in the 2023 session to enable and expand economic incentives for convention center hotel development and convention center district expansion. To empower the development of ever larger, state-of-the-art convention center facilities, Texas Hotel & Lodging Association (THLA) works on state legislation to provide important economic development tools for Texas municipalities.
Our primary argument in favor of increased state economic development investment in the hotel and convention industry is straightforward: While convention center and convention center hotel development are capital-intensive endeavors, both the local and state governments have experienced long-term economic benefits for decades.
2023 Legislative Session
In the 2023 Legislative Session, THLA authored and supported legislation to expand and preserve convention industry economic development tools for cities large and small in Texas. These programs, known as the “Qualified Hotel Project” (QHP) program and the “Project Financing Zone” (PFZ) program, provide state tax revenues to Texas municipalities to enable critical convention center hotel and convention center facility construction and expansion.
In recent years, convention center hotel development has grown in importance for communities seeking to increase the viability of convention center success. While convention center hotels have long been a mainstay of large convention center projects, increasingly, medium-sized and some smaller cities are discovering a convention center hotel is a necessity for attracting meetings. The challenge is that convention center hotel development is expensive, and municipalities often need the right package of economic development incentives to facilitate the development of a convention center hotel project.
This program, which is known as the Qualified Hotel Project (QHP) program enabled the largest convention center hotel projects to proceed in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio. Since 1997, THLA has assisted 69 municipalities in obtaining QHP-enabling legislation.
Thirteen qualified hotel projects have opened, with at least another ten projects in various stages of development. Using Texas Comptroller data, THLA worked with the relevant legislative committee leadership in the legislative session to draft new statutory “return-on-investment (ROI) legislation” that would serve to preserve the QHP program.
In that legislation, SB 1420, on the 20th anniversary of the qualified hotel project’s opening, the State of Texas must do an analysis to determine whether the State retained more state tax revenue in years 11-20 of the project than the State remitted to the city for years 1-10 of the qualified hotel project. This will ensure only the most viable and beneficial qualified hotel projects will proceed and ensure the program’s economic base remains strong for decades to come.
Additionally, THLA worked to amend state statutes to add Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and Corpus Christi to the PFZ program via HB 5012, SB 1057, and SB 2220. Crucially, the PFZ programs provide these cities with state tax revenues to develop large, state-of-the-art convention centers and convention center districts. The 30-year funding period allows for beneficial debt financing terms and allows Texas cities to better compete nationally and internationally for large conventions and major sporting events.
Both programs will benefit the Texas hotel and convention industry for many decades to come.
THLA thanks ISHA for the Award of Excellence recognition, and we are proud to serve the Texas hotel industry.