FY 2016- 2017
Authorized under Chapter 4 of Title 6 of the South Carolina Code of Laws (“Code”),
Accommodation Taxes are collected by lodging facilities (i.e., hotels, motels, etc.) from
individuals who spend one or more nights in their facilities (also known as the “heads on beds”
tax). These tourism-related funds must then be used to promote tourism and enlarge the
economic benefits of the area through advertising, promotion, and providing those facilities and
services that enhance the ability of the county or municipality to attract and provide for tourists.
Collected funds are distributed to the respective counties and municipalities to determine the best
use of these funds that meets the intent of the law. In the City of West Columbia, applications
for funds from the Tourism-related Fund are submitted to the West Columbia Accommodations
Tax Advisory Committee (Committee) for review. Eligible applicants include public and private
not-for-profit organizations. The Committee will then make allocation recommendations to
West Columbia City Council for final determination and approval.
What is the definition of a tourist?
Under Section 6-5-5 (a)(4), “travel” and “tourism mean the action and activities of people
taking trips outside their home communities for any purpose except daily commuting to and
from work. Because there is no clear definition of “home community” within the Code, the
Tourism Expenditure Review Committee (TERC), the state oversight committee for these funds,
has adopted a guideline set by other travel industry entities that states that a tourist is generally
one who travels in excess of 50 miles from home. However, TERC will review every event on
a case by case basis to consider how the project or event increases visitors to the region and
boosts the economy.
What type of project or event qualifies as a tourism-related expenditure?
The Committee looks to distinguish between events or activities designated for and attended
primarily by those in the local community (not qualifying) from events that are designated for
and attended primarily by non-residents who come from outside the local community, which
generally means from outside a 50-mile radius (qualifying). To make a determination regarding
the purpose or intent of an activity or event, the Committee looks to substantiate the promotional
activities undertaken to bring non-residents into the area to attend the funded activity. The
promotional effort is a key indicator of the extent to which the purpose of the funded activity is
to attract non-residents.
Certain tourism-related expenditures must be awarded on a “percentage of tourism” basis.
Applicants must be able to substantiate how much of the total expenditure is related to tourism,
and must be able to provide the “percentage of tourism” to the total budget of the project.
Categories of Qualifying Expenditures (as applied to West Columbia):
Under the Code, in order to qualify for a tourism-related expenditure, the expenditure must (1)
be used to attract or provide for tourists, and (2) can not be used for an item that would
normally need to be provided for by the municipality. There are five (5) categories of
tourism-related expenditures applicable for the City of West Columbia:
Advertising & Promotion of Tourism Under Code Section 6-4-10 (4)(b)(1), monies in
the Tourism-related Fund can be used for advertising and the promotion of tourism to
increase tourism in the municipality. Qualifying expenditures would include monies
spent on magazine, newspaper, web, radio or television advertising in an attempt to
promote the municipality to tourists. Qualifying expenditures also include monies
spent to promote the municipality to entities that specialize in tourism, such as bus tour
companies and travel agencies.
Arts & Cultural Events Under Code Section 6-4-10 (4)(b)(2), monies in the Tourism-
related Fund can be used for the promotion of the arts and cultural events.
Expenditures that can qualify include monies used for advertising or the promotion of a
particular festival or arts/cultural event held in or near the municipality in an effort to
attract tourists who will stay in hotels/motels, etc. within the city.
Facilities for Civic and Cultural Events Under Code Section 6-4-10 (4)(b)(3), monies
in the Tourism-related Fund can be used for the construction, maintenance and
operation of facilities for cultural and civic activities, including construction and
maintenance of access and other nearby roads and utilities for the facilities. Eligible
expenditures can include the costs incurred in building a civic center, a museum or a
coliseum. Funds may also be used for the continued operation of such facility
including repairs, and management fees or salaries of those who work at the facility.
Please note that the facility must enhance the ability of the municipality to attract
and provide for tourists and can not provide a purely local function or benefit.
Tourist Transportation Under Code Section 6-4-10 (4)(b)(6), monies in the Tourism-
related Fund may be used for tourist shuttle transportation. Qualifying expenditures
include any monies spent to provide public transportation to tourist, such as shuttle
buses or trolleys. For example, shuttles to transport persons from the airport to hotels,
or from the hotels to tourist attractions, or from conventions or tourist attractions to
other tourist facilities would qualify.
Visitors Centers Under Code Section 6-4-10 (4)(b)(8), monies in the Tourism-related
Fund may be used for operating visitor centers. Expenditures that will qualify are any
monies spent to operate and maintain centers whose primary purpose is to provide
information, brochures, and other services to tourists.
Who is eligible to apply?
Eligible applicants include public and private non-profit organizations. No grant can be made to
a private for-profit organization to be expended by the organization for its own event. Also,
grants will not be made to non-profit organizations for projects which will primarily benefit one
or a very few persons, or an exclusive group of for-profit organizations.
Can Tourism-related Funds be used to support local art or music programs such as Jazz in the
Schools, which improve the cultural climate of the municipality?
NO. While such art programs are educational and promote culture, they do not enhance the
ability of the municipality to attract and provide for tourists. These types of programs primarily
benefit the local population by exposing them to new experiences; however, tourists rarely
participate or experience the benefits of these programs.
Can Tourism-related Funds be used for local transportation for senior citizens’ programs, or
programs related to drug abuse, AIDS awareness or similar programs that would benefit
NO. While such programs do benefit the local community, they do not fit into any of the
categories of tourism-related expenditures and they do not attract or promote tourism within the
municipality. However, to the extent that a particular program is primarily designed to serve
tourists, the program could be eligible as a tourism-related expenditure. For example, senior
citizens transportation for elderly tourists may qualify as a tourism-related expenditure.
Can Tourism-related Funds be used to fund billboards or advertising relating to anniversaries
or other non-tourist related promotions for schools, colleges, universities or municipalities?
As a general rule, NO. However, if the billboard was designed to advertise the area and attract
tourists to the municipality, then the expenditure may qualify. For example, a billboard that
reads “Come see West Columbia and celebrate our 130
Anniversary, and lists events to be
held celebrating the anniversary, would qualify. A billboard recognizing the anniversary of a
private high school would not.
Can Tourism-related Funds be used for travel and lodging expenses of local high school
bands in such events as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade?
NO. These events do not serve to attract tourists to the band’s municipality; rather they only
serve to attract tourists to the locality where such event is being held.
Can Tourism-related Funds be used to fund scholarships offered by a sporting or other type of
similar event, which otherwise qualifies for Tourism-related Funds for promoting its events?
NO. The scholarships do not qualify as a tourism-related expenditure under the Code.
May a municipality use Tourism-related Funds for beautification projects?
It depends on two factors: (1) is the project designed to attract or provide for tourists? and (2) is
the beautification a service that would normally be provided by the municipality? For example,
a beautification project around municipal buildings is a service that is normally provided by the
municipality and would not qualify. However, the creation of a public garden, such as Edisto
Gardens in Orangeburg or Brookgreen Gardens in Horry County, is the creation of a destination
tourist facility and would qualify for tourism-related funds, provided that such location was
designed to attract tourists or enhance the ability of the municipality to attract tourists.
Thank you for your interest in West Columbia’s Accommodations Tax Program. The following
policies and procedures for making an application to the Tourism-related Fund are provided
below for your assistance. Grant Overview & Guidelines are also attached for your information
and should be reviewed prior to making an application.
Funding provided by Accommodations Tax used for promotion and advertising specifically
designed to bring tourists to the City of West Columbia, is made under the provision that the City
of West Columbia will be listed as a co-sponsor on all advertising, including, but not limited to,
all print media, radio, television and web ads. Funds can only be awarded to those projects that
will attract people to stay overnight in the City of West Columbia and to frequent City of West
Columbia restaurants.
Grant funds from the Accommodations Tax Program should be considered supplementary to the
budget of any applicant, and unless otherwise approved, must be used within the fiscal year for
which the funds were approved (July 1, 2016 June 30, 2017).
DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTNG APPLICATION: No later than 5 PM on Tuesday, April 12, 2016
NUMBER OF COPIES: Applicant should submit one (1) original and nine (9) copies of the unbound
application (binder-clips acceptable). All applications must be typed. Please use the on-line fillable form.
No hand-written copies will be accepted. No e-mailed copies will be accepted.
ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS: The applicant must be a public or private non-profit organization.
DISBURSEMENT OF FUNDS: Awards may be disbursed any time after July 1
of the program year,
but the city reserves the right to require an applicant to submit appropriate documentation [i.e., signed
contract(s), detailed invoice(s), canceled check(s), etc.] before disbursing funds.
FINANCIAL STATEMENTS: If your organization received funding last year, a copy of the final
financial statement must accompany this application.
OTHER ACCOMMODATIONS TAX FUNDING: Organizations must indicate any other
accommodations tax funds they have requested or received from other municipalities or counties for this
funding year.
FUNDING APROVAL: Funding in one calendar year does not automatically ensure funding in
subsequent years. Organizations seeking accommodation tax funding must submit an application each
The West Columbia Accommodation Tax Committee will hold a public meeting on Thursday,
May 5, 2016 at 5:30 PM in the New Brookland Room at City Hall (200 N. 12
Street) to review
applications, and if deemed appropriate, to hear presentations from selected applicants.
Accommodations Tax
July 1, 2016 June 30, 2017
FY 2011-2012
1. The Applicant must be a public or private non-profit organization. Private non-profit
organizations (non-governmental) must attach a copy of the applicant’s 501 (C) certification
letter and a copy of a current Secretary of State charity registration letter. PLEASE FILL IN ALL
BLANKS. Incomplete applications may be deemed unresponsive and be returned to the applicant.
Use “N/A” if not applicable.
Name of Project/Event __________________________________________________________
Event Website: ________________________________________________________________
Applicant/Organization __________________________________________________________
Federal ID No. _____________________________ Non-Profit Status: ____________________
Private, Community Serv/
Type of Organization: ___County ___ Munic. ___ Other Govmt ____Non-Profit ___ Church
Project Manager ____________________________ Title _______________________________
Primary Telephone #______________________ Secondary Telephone # _______________
Address __________________________________________________________________
Email ____________________________________________________________________
Applicants must submit a budget of planned expenditures with application, and, if approved for funding, an
accounting of how funds were spent at the end of the funding year.
(Definition: Tourism/tourist generally means the action and activities of people taking trips 50 miles outside
their home communities for any purpose, except daily commuting to and from work.) Distribution of funds
may be based on the percentage of visitors who travel 50 or more miles from outside the West Columbia
community to attend or visit your event.
2. Project Category (check one)
Advertising and Promotion of Tourism
The promotion of tourism to West Columbia through advertising in print media, radio, television, web
ads, and/or other
_____ Arts & Cultural Events
The promotion of the arts or cultural events to tourists through advertising or promoting a particular
festival or arts/cultural event.
_____ Facilities for Civic & Cultural Events
The construction, maintenance and operations of a facility used for cultural and civic activities that will
attract tourists to West Columbia. Eligible expenditures can also include construction and maintenance
costs for access and other nearby roads and utilities for the facility. Facilities for primarily local use are
not eligible.
For fiscal year July 1, 2016 June 30, 2017
West Columbia Accommodations Tax Application Page 2
Tourist Transportation
To provide for public transportation, such as shuttle buses or trolleys, to transport tourists to and from
hotels and tourist facilities, attractions and/or events.
_____ Visitors Centers
For the operation/maintenance of visitors centers whose primary purpose is to provide information,
brochures and other services to tourists.
3. Project/Event general description with specific reference to what will be accomplished with
city funds. Describe how your project/event will attract and promote tourism or help provide
services and facilities that are needed to attract and provide for tourists, civic and cultural activities.
(Attach additional sheet, if necessary)
4. Project Period: Begin __________________ End ____________________
(must be within the funding year July 1, 2016 June 30, 2017)
One important factor in allocating these funds is that there should be more hotel/motel activity in West
Columbia due to the funding provided. For events projects only, answer question 5 (a) (b) & (c) below. All
other projects skip to question #6.
a. Which hotels in the City of West Columbia have you contacted to arrange rooms for your overnight
visitors? ____ American Inn (1617 Chas. Hwy) ___ American Inn & Suites (McSwain Dr) ___ Holiday Inn
& Suites (McSwain Dr) ____ Quality Inn (2516 Augusta Rd) ____ West Columbia Extended Stay
(McSwain Dr) Total rooms booked _____
b. Total number of visitors expected to attend your event _________.
c. What percentage of visitors outside the West Columbia community (50 miles or more) will be
attending your event? ______________
6. List the method(s) to be used to track tourist:
___ Web page inquiries estimated inquiries per month _________
___ Brochure mailings estimated brochures mailed per month ______
___ Event ticket sales estimated tickets sold per event _____
___ Event registration estimated registrants per event _____
___ Hotel room sales estimated # of rooms per event/per month _______
___ Phone call inquiries estimated phone calls per month ______
___ Surveys estimated percent of “tourist” responses per survey ______
___ License plates estimated count per event ______
West Columbia Accommodations Tax Application Page 3
7. Do/will you advertise outside a 50-mile radius? _____Yes ____No
a. If yes, please check all that apply to advertising sources outside a 50-mile radius:
___ Rack cards - # distributed _______
___ Brochures - # distributed _______
___ Posters - # distributed _______
___ Magazine Ads - # ads _______
(list ads & distribution range on separate sheet)
___ Newspaper Ads - # ads _______ (list newspapers & distribution on separate sheet)
___ Televisions Ads - # ads _______ (list stations & viewing range on separate sheet)
___ Radio Ads - # ads _______ (list stations & listening range on separate sheet)
___ Billboards - # ads _______ (list number & locations on separate sheet)
___ Websites - # web pages other than primary website: _______ (list on separate
sheet the target audience)
___ Other (list on separate sheet along with target audience
b. If no, is there any other group/agency who will be responsible for advertising? If so,
who? _____________________________________________
8. Estimated Cost of Project $_____________________
9. Total Accommodations Tax Funds Requested from West Columbia for FY 2016-2017: $_______,
which represents _________% of the total project/event budget. Please include this amount
when listing proposed sources of income on budget page. (Unless otherwise approved,
funds must be spent within the funding year: July 1, 2016 June 30, 2017)
10. Has your project/event or organization previously received Accommodations Tax Funds from
any source in the last 3 years? ___ Yes ___No
a. If yes,
FY 2015-2016: $___________; source: __________________; purpose: __________________
FY 2014-2015: $___________; source: __________________; purpose: __________________
FY 2013-2014: $___________; source: __________________; purpose: __________________
b. For each award year, did you expend 100% of the Accommodations Tax Funds you were
awarded? ___Yes ___No
c. If no, please explain and give amount not used:
City Of West Columbia
Accommodations Tax Application Revenues Page 4
Organization /Event ___________________________
Provide the best description possible for the type and source of revenue(s) (example: A-Tax grant
/Lexington County Committed - $10,000). Identify all contributing sponsors by name, agency, etc.
Please include the amount being requested from West Columbia A-Tax in your budget.
Committed or
(Select One)
Amount for
FY 2016-2017
*NOTE: This amount should equal the amount of expenses on following page.
City Of West Columbia
Accommodations Tax Application Expenditures Page 5
Organization/Event: ___________________________________________
List all expenses associated with this event.
Type of Expenditure
Amount for
*NOTE: This amount should equal the amount of revenues on previous page.
West Columbia Accommodations Tax Application Page 6
I certify that the above information, along with any attachments, represents a true and accurate
description of the project/event for which we are applying for funds through the West Columbia
Accommodations Tax Program.
I also certify that I have read and understand the West Columbia Accommodations Tax Overview
and Guidelines.
_____________________________________ ______________________________
Signature of Project Manager/Director Date
Order of Application Package:
1. Cover letter to include brief history of organization.
2 Completed West Columbia Accommodations Tax Application (including revenues/expenses)
3. Additional Information to questions (placed in order of questions)
4. Copy of IRS 501 (C) certification letter (for private non-profit organizations)
5. Copy of a current South Carolina Secretary of State Charity registration letter (for private non-
profit organizations)
Submit one (1) original, completed application package and nine (9) copies (unbound - binder-
clips acceptable) to:
City of West Columbia
ATTN: Donna M. Smith
City Hall
200 N. 12
West Columbia, SC 29169
DEADLINE IS 5:00 p.m. April 12, 2016
**All applications must be typed Use on-line fillable form**
***No e-mail copies will be accepted***
Note: Please call Donna Smith or B.J. Unthank (939-8614) if you have any questions regarding the
application, project eligibility or the grant process prior to submission of your application.