Regarding Andrew Keatts’ article, “Beef Week: The Long Fight for Convention Center Control,” I would like to clarify a few things.
First, the San Diego Tourism Authority is not run “primarily by hoteliers.” A quick review of the Tourism Authority’s board of directors will find that more than half of the board members are, in fact, non-hoteliers.
The Tourism Authority has a mandate that at least 50 percent of the board membership represents tourism-related organizations; this currently includes representatives from the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld San Diego, Art San Diego, NTC Foundation and others.
Second, the article refers to the 2 percent hotel assessment as a “tax.” It is not. It is an assessment fee – the proceeds of which are used for the express purpose of attracting more visitors to the San Diego region. Proceeds from the city’s transient occupancy tax, on the other hand, are deposited directly into the city’s general fund to support police, fire and other services.
Third, the Tourism Authority does not merely market “the city” as a tourist destination. We work with the county of San Diego, as well as other cities and organizations to market the entire region – from Carlsbad to Coronado to the backcountry.
Lastly, despite our occasional differences, the Tourism Authority and the Convention Center Corporation continue to work very closely together. We both recognize the importance of growing our tourism economy, creating jobs for San Diegans, generating tax revenue and ultimately making sure San Diego remains one of the best places in the world to visit.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
"First, the San Diego Tourism Authority is not run “primarily by hoteliers.” A quick review of the Tourism Authority’s board of directors will find that more than half of the board members are, in fact, non-hoteliers."
That's a bit disingenuous. While only 11 of the 29 directors are directly employed by hotels, a brief search shows that several others come from hotels and likely continue to represent that interest. Blem runs a hotel management company. Khaleghi was employed with Hyatt for what looks like his entire career. Oddo spent a quarter decade working at the Town and Country.
There are people from other interests, including some like Young, Shaw, and Ziter, who's connection to tourism is debatable, but for the most part, the TA represents the hotel industry.
As for the so-called assessment, I agree with Don. When the 2% "assessment" is found to be a tax, it will be left up to the members to directly fund the TA, as it should be.
Prediction: The courts are going to find that the TOT surcharge "assessment" is in fact a tax on hotel
guests adopted by the city without the required public vote, thereby making it illegal, just as the
courts did with the TOT surcharge meant to fund a convention center expansion, which was created
in the same manner the city's Tourism Marketing District funding mechanism was. When that happens
either the hotels will begin funding the TMD and Tourism Authority directly, or they will fold. When that
happens, the convention center corporation will take back all convention center booking activities. The
Tourism Authority is whistling past the graveyard.