Colorado’s Larimer County is not required to pay the Estes Park Marketing District’s 2 percent lodging tax for stays at Hermit Park, but has agreed to collect the tax and turn it over to the special district as a fee in lieu of taxes, according to the Loveland Reporter-Herald.

The county will collect and pay the fee “so we are on the same playing field as local merchants,” said David Ayraud, deputy county attorney.

The county commissioners agreed to the fee in lieu of taxes after a short closed session Tuesday (Aug. 21), a move that will collect about $4,000 per year for the marketing district.

Because it is a government entity, Larimer County is not required to collect and pay the lodging tax back to the district. But officials decided to do so because the county campground benefits from the marketing and to be fair to other campgrounds in the area.

The money will join a much larger pot that the marketing district uses to promote overnight visits to Estes Park through advertising, visitor’s guides and public relations through both print and online sources.

In 2011, the marketing district collected just over $1.34 million from the tax on overnight stays around Estes Park — a major tourist destination that borders Rocky Mountain National Park.

Suzy Blackhurst, spokeswoman for the marketing district, said all indicators show the efforts to draw people to the Estes Park area are working. For example, more people have requested copies of the Estes Park Visitor’s Guide, and the number of page hits for the online version of the guide jumped 542 percent from 2010 to 2011.

In 2008, voters formed the local marketing district, which includes the town as well as a large perimeter outside the town including from just east of Drake into Rocky Mountain National Park and just north of Meeker Park past Glen Haven. Simultaneously, voters created a 2 percent lodging tax, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2009.