Cheboygan County Resort Owner Files Lawsuit Against Tourist Bureau

"I don’t think they should have to pay for it," The Landings on Indian River owner George Galbraith said.

A Northern Michigan resort owner filed a lawsuit against his local tourism bureau.

The Cheboygan County man says the 5% assessment fee his customers have to pay for each stay isn’t fair.

That money goes towards marketing and advertising to attract visitors to the area.

The owner of The Landings on Indian River filed a lawsuit against the Indian River Area Tourist Bureau saying they’re violating his first amendment rights.

9 & 10’s Blayke Roznowski and photojournalist Erin Malone spoke to the resort owner about the concerns and why others say the assessment is important.

"If you’ve got money, you can go on vacation. If you don’t, you can’t," Galbraith said. "I don’t care how much advertising you put out there."

George Galbraith, the owner of The Landings on Indian River, is upset his guests have to pay more for the Indian River Area Tourist Bureau’s marketing.

"It’s a club that I don’t want to belong to," Galbraith said. "They don’t do things the way I would do it." 

Being a part of the local bureaus is a state law.

Local lodging owners vote if they want to have the assessment in place.

Galbraith filed a lawsuit against the bureau saying it violates his rights to be part of something he doesn’t agree with.

"Michigan has made the law so you cant exit. That’s the real issue," Galbraith said. "It’s not the money. The money isn’t coming out of my pocket and it’s not a major amount for people who stay, but it is an amount and they shouldn’t have to pay it."

But the Petoskey Area Tourism Bureau says this money is vital to encourage people to come visit.

"Marketing the area, of course, is bringing people in who are going to rent their hotel rooms and everybody is happy," Petoskey Area Tourism Bureau executive director Peter Fitzsimons said.

If Galbraith wins the lawsuit, it could impact the entire state.

"It’s a big number that the whole state would lose in encouraging people to come and visit and recreate in the state of Michigan," Fitzsimons said. "It’s a serious thing." 

The Indian River Area Tourist Bureau has not yet responded to the suit.