Esther Miller, then general manager of the Holiday Inn of Oneonta, said: “As a hotel operator I am in favor (of the tax) if the money is directed back into promoting the area. That’s the only way I’m in favor of it.”
April 1988 became a momentous month for tourism in Otsego County. Doris Holdorf was hired as the Tourism Bureau’s first executive director, and began her work on June 6. It was also the month that the Otsego County Board of Representatives approved a 2 percent local bed tax to support the local tourism industry.
It was estimated that the bed tax would generate about $200,000 a year in Otsego County. Upon passage by the Board of Representatives, the measure went to the state Legislature to obtain the authority to enact the tax.
Lodging owners fought vigorously against the proposed tax. The Star reported on Friday, April 29, that more than 30 people came to protest the tax at an informational meeting on Thursday. Opponents wondered why the county’s campgrounds were excluded from the tax, a debate that has resurfaced in recent years.
In October 1988 the Otsego County Tourism Bureau got a bit of advice in marketing from the tourism director in Saratoga, Michael J. Mendrick.
In a Star article from Oct. 27, Mendrick said: “If this county is to fulfill its potential as a tourism destination, it will need an across-the-board commitment from its private sector and from its public sector to support the effort … . In the tourism market, there’s nothing truer than it takes money to make money.”
Mendrick pointed out that Rochester’s tourism bureau had a $1.2 million budget, Albany had about $800,000 and Utica $400,000. Saratoga was running on $148,000, “which barely gets us into the ballgame,” Mendrick said. Saratoga had enacted a 1 percent city tax for tourism that year.