Florida Circuit Court Sides With Online Travel Companies

Decision represents additional victory for companies, questions futility of similar litigation

Feb 28, 2013, 18:26 ET from The Travel Technology Association

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Feb. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The First District Court of Appeal in Florida ruled decisively in favor of online travel companies (OTCs), affirming once again that OTCs are not subject to the application of lodgings taxes to their services.  Florida municipalities appealed the Leon County Circuit Court decision, which also ruled in favor of OTCs, claiming OTCs should be liable to pay lodgings tax based on amounts received for providing their reservation facilitation services.  The court disagreed. The decision rendered today continues to follow a clear national trend, where state and federal courts have repeatedly rebuffed efforts by state and local governments to attempt to impose hotel occupancy taxes on OTCs for their services.

"Our members maintain the same ambition now as we did prior to litigation: to successfully encourage travelers and tourists worldwide to discover and experience the state of Florida, which will ultimately drive increased tax revenues to county and state treasuries," said Simon Gros, chairman of Travel Tech: The Travel Technology Association.

The crux of the appeal came down to whether or not Florida's Tourist Development Tax applied to OTCs.  The Court determined that OTCs do not rent or lease hotel rooms, rather they simply provide a service for consumers to compare hotels, rates and ultimately book a reservation at a chosen hotel.  

Gros continued, "We sincerely hope that these claims will finally be put to rest, so that we can get back into the business of putting heads in beds, and showcasing Florida as a tourist destination on a global stage."

About Travel Tech

The Travel Technology Association, or Travel Tech, is the association for online travel companies (OTCs) and global distribution systems (GDSs), and is dedicated to connecting consumers and travel providers, eliminating barriers to travel and protecting consumers.  Travel Tech's members include: Amadeus, Expedia, Orbitz Worldwide, Priceline, Travelocity, Travelport and Vegas.com.

SOURCE The Travel Technology Association