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Visitors bring more than meets the eye to Austin

Visitors to the Capital City help the local economy by spending their money here, but Bob Lander, president of the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, says their spending eases the burden of those who live in Austin. "When they come and they stay for four days and spend a ton of dough, which they do, that offsets the taxes that our citizens have to pay." Lander says it's estimated that an average of $1,000 per adult is offset in taxes that is brought in by visitors' spending. He says there's a misconception that big events like South-by-Southwest are putting stress on the city's infrastructure, but what's happening is just the opposite. Regarding hotel room availability, Lander says while Austin hotels may not get totally full, the occupancy rate is still 70 to 80 percent, and even higher in areas like the Arboretum. In an effort to accommodate large numbers of future visitors to the city, he says several new hotels are under construction, including the 1,012-room J.W. Marriott, which is expected to open downtown early next year, between Congress and Brazos. He notes that "It's the only hotel of its size built in the U.S., without public funds, in the past ten years." He says several other hotels are "in the pipeline" and slated for construction.

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