Morning Fizz

Morning Fizz: The Twilight Tax

By Heidi Broadhead December 23, 2009

At a recent PubliCola editorial meeting, we played state legislature and brainstormed on possible new tax revenues to solve the state's $2.6 billion short fall.

My idea for generating revenue for the state: A Twilight tax. (Or, to give it a more clandestine name: Sparkle tax. Why is my rental car so expensive? "That's sparkle tax, ma'am. It's standard.")

With the influx of tourism dollars to the Peninsula, and the big Twilight Con coming up at the Westin in January, we need to capitalize on one of our state's most recently discovered assets: Forks.
Jean No Vampires Beyond This Point
I'll admit it: I read the Twilight Saga. (Until the last book, I was a secretly adamant member of Team Jacob. That was pre-movie, mind you. I'm the booknerd, not the teen movie nerd.)

For any of you who don't know this (I'm always surprised at how many people don't), Twilight is the story of Bella Swan, who moves to Forks to live with her father, only to meet and fall in love with Edward, a vampire. Edward is beautiful, cold, hard, and... he sparkles. The story is further complicated by Jacob, a member of the Quileute tribe from La Push, who falls in love with Bella, and happens to be a werewolf.

Before Bella moved to town, Forks and La Push were introvert destinations, places deep in the Peninsula where you could get a room for not too much money and retreat into the wilderness without any danger of encountering people. Those days are over. Forks (and to some extent, La Push and Port Angeles) are cashing in.

After Twilight came out in 2005, fans started showing up intermittently to see the site of Bella and Edward's immortal love. But since last November, when the release of the first Twilight movie coincided with the last book in the series, Breaking Dawn, visitors really started coming.

On The New Moon website, "admin" reported last summer that:
"...the flow of tourists and visitors to Forks has exploded to epic proportions over the past year."

An article in the Peninsula Daily News described the "jaw-dropping" numbers at the Forks Visitors Center, with more than 16,000 visitors in July 2009 alone. ("Just thinking about it, my jaw drops," said Chamber of Commerce director Marcia Bingham.)

That same article reported a total of 16,186 people passed through the Visitor Center in July ... in one month nearly reaching the entire year's total for 2008—18,485 people. Think about it this way: Forks tourism revenues through July were up 16.7 percent over last year. Up! Are revenues anywhere else in the state up?

Now, that's really only an increase of $6,500. But that's because we're not being smart about this. Nearly 20,000 people a month coming to our state and going directly to Forks to spend their money? This starts at SeaTac, runs through rental cars, light rail, ferries, hotels, restaurants, and Twilight merchandise. If we impose an extra 4 percent tax (the number of books in the series) on all sales related to Twilight tourism, we'll wipe out the projected $2.6 billion state short fall in no time.

People wont even blink at the tax. If they're already shelling out for the $250 boat tour to Bella's Cliff, they'll certainly be willing to pay $260. This lovely bite will add up.

Forks has transformed into a veritable Twilight land. Several business, including a karaoke bar, have "Twilight" in the name. Motels welcome Twilight fans. People drive by a 1916 Craftsman style house in Forks known as "Bella's house" (because it looks most like the one in the books). One blogger/visitor talked to the owner of the house, the school librarian, who wasn't too thrilled with the series. “Well, it’s okay," he said after reading the first book, "but I’ll have to buy it for the school because it’s set in Forks”

"Dazzled by Twilight" has two retail locations (one in Forks and another in Port Angeles) specializing in Twilight tours (the 3-hour Breaking Dawn tour runs at about $39, that's only $42 with sparkle tax) and official Twilight merchandise, such as:

Barbies and cardboard cutouts of Bella, Edward, and Jacob (create your own love triangle at home!).

The *new* Jacob throw (which they really should make as a Snuggie).

The Edward/Bella hoodie (a personal favorite: how can you split them apart!)


And the now infamous Edward (Robert Pattinson) sheets and duvet cover.


Enterprising Washingtonites will see these pieces of merchandise for what they really are--opportunities for tax revenue!

(It's really too bad that these Twitarded Pattinson panties were a joke, because we could charge a serious sin tax for these, particularly for anyone over 30, because, ew.)

We need to hop on this opportunity soon. In January, hundreds of fans will convene at the Westin in Seattle for Creation Entertainment's Official Twilight Convention, and you know—after attending such events as the "Volturi Vampire Ball" and "Chow Down with the Wolf Pack"—they'll be heading to Forks.

And the Twilight craze won't last forever. The movie for Eclipse (Book 3) comes out next June. They are splitting Breaking Dawn into two movies--which gives us two to three years to ride this sparkly vamp wave before the pre-teens start talking about that totally embarrassing time when they had that cheesy Edward poster above their bed.

(La Push "No Vampire" photo from the American Indians in Children's Literature blog.)
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