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I’d never seen this site before but it’s an interesting concept. It’s a sort of idea-sharing service meant specifically for municipal managers and elected officials.

Not sure if it’s working but one of the ideas the site wants to share out of San Diego is the tourism marketing district, or TMD. I’m not sure this is our finest export.

Remember, this is the consortium funded with a tax that hoteliers are able to charge their visitors in addition to the city’s transient occupancy tax, or TOT. The money is funneled to one place and spent on marketing San Diego.

It’s funding things like this (an admittedly cool commercial):

I’ve always thought it was suspect. I can’t think of any other situation in which a group of businesses are allowed to get together, decide to all raise their prices by the exact same amount, and then use that to compete with a group of similar businesses somewhere else. But that’s just me, apparently.

Most people unhappy with the situation are watching these hoteliers collect nearly $30 million and spending it on happy commercials while the rest of the city is having a bit of trouble. The tourism boosters say we could have passed the tax ourselves and that if we had, the money would be wasted in the city’s black hole of pensions, police and problems.

PublicCEO.com thinks the TMD is fabulous, claiming San Diego and other cities find themselves freed from having to pay for marketing their city:

Tourism districts are often a bright spot in local funding streams because they allow cities with Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT) in place to pull even more of that revenue into the general fund.

In San Diego, where $10.5 million of the $161 million in TOTs was going to destination marketing previous to the enactment of the district, even that amount was funneled to the general fund to preserve essential services.

Of the anticipated $29.2 million the fee will generate this year, the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau known as ConVis is receiving $12 million, San Diego North ConVis is receiving $2.4 million and the balance goes to special projects as determined by a new San Diego Tourism Promotion Corp. That is more funding than any of the organizations had under TOT revenue budgeting.

So ConVis and its brothers in arms have found themselves with more money than ever!

That’s nice.

SCOTT LEWIS

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