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Various Authors 6:38 p.m., Sept. 24
$1 billion dollars over the next 40 years, that's the amount that would be raised if city councilmembers decide to renew the contract for San Diego's Tourism Marketing District.
The district, established in 2008, generates revenue from a 2 percent charge on hotel rooms, which is in addition to the current transit occupancy tax. The revenue from the assessment goes to promoting hotels and tourism.
Mike McDowell, head of the San Diego Lodging Industry Association presented some changes to the district to the City's Budget and Finance Committee on Wednesday.
The proposed contract is an upgrade from the one currently in place. If approved, the new contract will generate approximately $30 million a year and will include all hotels with 30 rooms or more-- not the 70-room plus requirement in the current contract. And, instead of four years the contract will expire in 40 years.
"Why are we not the home to a Dr. Seuss theme park? We should be. Why are we not an equity partner in ComicCon?" Asked McDowell. His answer; because San Diego needs more promotion and during the next 40 years the Tourism Marketing District can do just that.
"Our proposal for a 40-year term to the [Tourism Marketing District] will provide economic stability and financial resources...to energize the economic engine of tourism."
But critics, such as the local hotel workers union, say the assessment is just a tax and violates Prop 26, which requires that any hidden tax have approval from two-thirds of the electorate. Proponents claim that participating hotels benefit directly from the charge through additional room-nights. The incremental rooms exempts the district from Prop 26.
"We should be investing this $1 billion dollars in the City of San Diego not a select group of hotels in town," stated Graham Forbes, research analyst for local hotel-employee union, Unite Here.
The district and hoteliers will finish drafting the proposal and will present the new contract to the council at a later meeting.