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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.
Today, tourism is San Diego’s second-largest traded economy, employing more than 173,000 people and generating $9.2 billion in visitor spending each year. As the organization officially charged with driving visitor demand to economically benefit the San Diego region, the Tourism Authority is committed to strengthening this vital industry.
Rod LaBranche is chair of the San Diego Tourism Authority Board of Directors. LaBranche’s letter has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.