Following the Sidney Daily News’s publication of a story, Monday, July 2, about Shelby County Commissioner Julie Ehemann’s testimony before the Ohio House of Represenatives, Steve Shur, president of the Travel Technology Association, the trade association of online travel agents, sent the following statement:

“I feel it’s important for Ohio residents to understand how our industry works and how new taxes on travel agents will harm your economy. There were a few inaccuracies in your piece that I would like to clarify. First, the biggest myth in our industry is that online travel companies buy rooms at wholesale rates from hotels and resell them to consumers at retail rates. This is simply not true. Online travel agents (OTAs) never purchase rooms from hotels and are never responsible for any room that goes unsold. The hotels partner with OTAs to market unsold inventory. OTAs are travel agents. When you book a room via an online travel agent, the amount you pay includes the room rate (set by the hotel), all taxes on that room rate and a travel agent service fee that the OTA charges the consumer for the service of being able to search, compare and book the room. The bill would apply the sales tax to the travel agent service fee. This is a new tax. This is a new tax on services in Ohio and would be a DOUBLE tax on Ohio travel agents who already pay income tax on the fees they charge their clients. It is also inaccurate to suggest that OTAs are collecting taxes from consumers and not remitting those taxes to the hotel/state. All applicable taxes on the room rate are collected and passed-through to the hotel for remittance. If this were not the case, the hotels would have legal recourse. Contractually, the OTAs are obligated to remit all applicable taxes to the hotels.”