South Boston hoping tourism zone will help spur growth in the town and surrounding area

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SOUTH BOSTON (WSLS10) - South Boston council members are trying to spur growth in the town and the surrounding area by creating a tourism zone.

The zone will cover the same area in South Boston that is already designated as an enterprise zone.

This will allow current and future tourism related businesses, such as hotels and restaurants, to be eligible to apply for additional state and local tax credits.

The tax credits will help cover the cost of their renovations or developments.

South Boston will require current businesses to spend at least $50,000 in order to be eligible for the tourism tax credits from the town and will require new businesses to spend at least $250,000.

Halifax County-South Boston Tourism Director Linda Shepperd says this is an important step for the county because the tourism industry is growing there.

"It is a very big piece of the pie and it is increasingly getting bigger as we go on and we're looking for jobs and tax revenues. Tourism is increasingly being looked at," Shepperd explained.

Destination Downtown South Boston's executive director, Tamyra Beft, says she hopes the tourism zone will help generate longer stays by travelers.

"It will really help us to create that unique shopping, dinning, lodging, entertainment, recreational experience in South Boston," Beft said.

Thomas Raab, South Boston's town manager, says he and council members looked at the handful of other tourism zones across the state to get an idea about how to create the tourism zone in South Boston.

"If we wanted to, we could change it," Raab pointed out, explaining that the tourism zone can be expanded, shrunk, or other tourism zones could be created around town. "If a big investor comes through and wants to do a hotel at a certain location in town we could certainly do that."

At their meeting on Monday night, council members will vote on whether or not to create the tourism zone.

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