3 Aug 2011

The Future of Tourism Funding?

Next week (9th August) I will be meeting Lorin Stewart, Executive Director of the San Diego Tourism Marketing District. 

He is in London for a week and has kindly agreed to meet me to discuss the San Diego Tourism Improvement District model and I'm hoping to learn some lessons that can be applied to the UK. 

Apart from my interest in finding new funding models to support tourism I'm particularly also looking forward to meeting Lorin as the man who's earlier career saw him acting with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Now all he has to do is please the several hundred hoteliers who hired him to help market their hotels - in an economy that’s already taking a big toll on the region’s hospitality industry. Lorin’s basic job description sounds simpler than it is: Put more heads on beds.

I will post the interview next week but in the meantime if anyone has any questions you would like me to put to Lorin please contact me asap or leave as comments below.

The San Diego Tourism Marketing District follows the model of Tourism Business Improvement Districts (BID’s) that utilize the efficiencies of private sector operation in the market-based promotion of local and regional tourism. Tourism BID’s, such as the SDTMD allow lodging and other tourism-related business owners to organize their efforts to increase tourism. In San Diego, lodging business owners within the district assess themselves to fund the District and those funds will be used to provide programs and services that specifically benefit the assessed lodging businesses.

History: As a result of diminishing public resources available for effective and competitive destination marketing, local lodging industry leadership began discussing alternative funding sources and available options in 2003. A working group comprised of lodging industry representatives held dozens of meetings with proposed assessed businesses, stakeholder groups and interested parties. On May 8, 2007 the San Diego City Council adopted an enabling Procedural Ordinance that allowed for the formation of a Tourism Marketing District. In December of 2007, the qualifying businesses voted to establish the assessment district, and the Tourism Marketing District (TMD) was approved by San Diego City Council.

The Tourism Marketing District began on January 1, 2008.

The enabling Procedural Ordinance and the Management District Plan provide that the City contract with the San Diego Tourism Marketing District (SDTMD), a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation, to plan and carry out specified activities, subject to the terms and conditions enumerated in the contract between SDTMD and the City. In April 2008, City Council gave final approval of the contract between SDTMD and the City, thus establishing the terms for SDTMD to manage the District assessments and to contract for implementation of the proposed marketing programs and services outlined in the Management District Plan.

Location: The Tourism Marketing District is citywide, inclusive of all areas within the city limits of the City of San Diego. A map of the District is included with the San Diego Tourism Marketing District Management District Plan.

Funding Source Entirely from Assessed Businesses: The TMD assessment is designed to benefit, and is levied upon, lodging businesses with 70 or more sleeping rooms in the City of San Diego. Business means any and all types of hotels where a structure, or any portion of a structure, is held out to the public as being occupied, or designed for occupancy, by transients for dwelling, lodging or sleeping purposes. The owner(s), operator(s), or an authorized representative who is noted on City records as the responsible party for remitting and reporting Transient Occupancy Tax for each lodging business is responsible for paying the assessment. The annual assessment is based upon 2% of gross room revenue from transient stays in the lodging business as described above.