Hotelier wants Sandwich to leave DeKalb Co. visitors bureau

October 2, 2018

SANDWICH – City officials appear set to repeal a hotel bed tax in light of objections from the city’s largest hotel owner about how the money is being spent.

Sandwich Mayor Rick Olson said he received a letter from Debak Vyas, owner of the Timber Creek Inn and Suites on Route 34, asking the city to withdraw its membership in the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The city has been collecting and forwarding most of the proceeds of a 3 percent hotel bed tax to the convention and visitors bureau, which promotes area communities to people outside the county in order to increase tourism. The bureau, in turn, has used the revenues to help cover its costs for promoting tourism in the Sandwich area and the rest of DeKalb County.

Olson said Vyas, who lives in St. Louis, was unhappy that Timber Creek was not featured more prominently in a recent bureau tourism guide.

“It was a very difficult situation. We worked very hard to act as liaison between [Vyas] and the organization,” he said.

“The funds must go to a certified program that works with the convention bureau,” said Olson, who is a member of the visitors bureau board. “The owner of the hotel was not willing to go along with this. He was unhappy with the way it was listed in the guide, so he does not wants us to send them the money.”

The city has received about $22,000 in tax revenues from the hotel. But the city cannot keep the money because it does not have an approved program with a tourism board, Olson said.

“We can’t send that money to anybody else, so it will have to be returned,” he said.

Sandwich left the Aurora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau for the DCCVB earlier this year, also at Vyas’ request.

Olson said the DCCVB officials prefer that Sandwich keep its membership with the bureau. He said he did not think Vyas gave the bureau a chance to get things going the way it should have been done.

DCCVB board President Brad Hoey said the city has been a good partner in the organization. He said he believes the hotel was already listed on the organization’s website before Sandwich was added to the board, and it only made sense that the city joined the group. Hoey said the DCCVB has been in contact with Vyas about his concerns and are working directly with the property to address those concerns.

“If there’s any feeling that we’re not doing as good job as we could be, we’ll look into it,” Hoey said.

Despite Vyas’ concerns, Hoey said, the organization still has to operate on behalf of the whole county.

“We can’t just represent just Sandwich or just DeKalb or Sycamore,” Hoey said. “We represent everybody.”

• Daily Chronicle reporter Katie Finlon contributed to this report.

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