Columbus hotels to pop back up on Orbitz, lawsuit settled - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Columbus hotels to pop back up on Orbitz, lawsuit settled

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM)-- After years of litigation, Columbus hotels will once again be listed on Orbitz.com- the announcement of a settlement coming straight from the mayor at Tuesday morning's city council meeting.

"The City of Columbus lawsuit against online travel company Orbitz, LLC regarding hotel-motel occupancy tax has been resolved," said Mayor Jim Wetherington.

Effective Wednesday July 14th, the Fountain City will pop back up on the travel web site. Columbus was yanked from the site after the suit over hotel occupancy taxes was filed back in 2006.

Officials are staying tight-lipped on the terms of the agreement as details are still being hashed out.

But it's one down and two to go for the city who has two other similar lawsuits pending in Muscogee County Superior Court involving Expedia.com and Hotels.com.

"It is the City of Columbus' position that they have been collecting taxes all along on the retail room rate that the customers pay and then remitting a portion of those taxes they've collected based on the wholesale rate by keeping some of those taxes to go to their bottom line and profit margin. It's the city's obligation to collect all the taxes it's entitled to," explained Trip Tomlinson, attorney on the case.

"This will be good for the hotels in Columbus. People can call in now and get a room in Columbus whereas before, they were sending them to Phenix City or Auburn or wherever. I think this is a great start and maybe this will send a message to the other people that they should think about settling too," Wetherington added.

As part of the settlement payment, the City of Columbus has agreed not to sue Orbitz for hotel-motel taxes for a certain period of time and all prior claims made in the case will be released.

Orbitz, meanwhile, is not admitting that it was or could be liable for Columbus' hotel-motel occupancy tax.

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