Paving the way to begin marketing San Diego to visitors, the San Diego City Council unanimously approved the San Diego Tourism Marketing District’s budget for fiscal year 2021 and extended the city’s operating agreement with it for an additional 10 years.
The recent approval of the Tourism Marketing District’s (TMD) estimated $38.6 million budget is critical to fund efforts to market the destination, particularly now as hotels begin to open up for leisure travel and as many of the region’s top attractions, including the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park, are planning to open over the next few weeks.
Many of San Diego’s key tourism features were shuttered because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Councilmember Chris Ward, who represents the district where Balboa Park is located, said it was important to have the resources to market the destination because tourism is key to helping the local economy recover.
“We are going to need visitors once we are open. We want people to get back to work in our hotels and at our events and restaurants and other businesses that directly serve those visitors, and we need those tax dollars to help our city budget recover in the right way,” he said.
Of the $38 million, almost $25 million is coming from projected assessment revenue and another $11.5 million is coming from legal reserves, which had been held back over lawsuits concerning the TMD’s formation. Those legal disputes have all been resolved in favor of the TMD, and so those funds can now be used to help fill in the gap from lowered assessments due to the pandemic’s impact on the local tourism industry.
The bulk of the budget will go to the San Diego Tourism Authority for leisure marketing and group and convention sales, with some $22 million earmarked for digital and broadcast marketing.
The extension of the TMD’s operating agreement is another big win for San Diego’s tourism community as it ensures that the district will be in place for another decade. Previous extensions have only been in five-year increments, and the longer timeframe provides more certainty about revenue streams.