The San Diego Tourism Authority has been facing the prospect of reduced funding from the Tourism Marketing District (TMD).
Sadly, our fears have become reality.
Because of an $18 million reduction in funding from the TMD, the Tourism Authority last week laid off 40 percent of its workforce. In all, we had to let go 31 dedicated, enthusiastic and talented employees – in administration, sales and marketing. Included was the three-person staff of the San Diego Film Commission.
It is important to note that there were no layoffs to our convention center sales team, as they are funded through a separate contract with the San Diego Convention Center Corp.
While these cuts will undoubtedly have a negative impact on tourism in San Diego, they were made very thoughtfully and strategically in order to maximize our resources and minimize a loss in visitors to our region.
To help us address the funding loss, we will also implement compensation reductions and other cost-cutting measures, and redirect the savings to support critical sales and marketing programs.
The $18 million reduction in funding is the result of pending litigation against the TMD – the Tourism Authority’s primary funder. The suits seek to overturn the TMD’s 2 percent assessment on hotel room revenue, which has funded the Authority and events that attract visitors to San Diego. Until these legal challenges are resolved, proceeds from the 2 percent assessment are being held by the city in the event these challenges prevail and refunds are ordered to hotel guests.
I am hopeful that the legal challenges related to the TMD will be resolved in the very near future so that we can return to selling San Diego as aggressively as we have done in the past – to drive visitor demand here and the resulting economic benefit for our entire region.
In the meantime, we at the Tourism Authority remain deeply committed to serving our industry partners and working extremely hard to attract visitors to one of the finest tourist destinations in the world.