I write as a stake holder of two Mission Valley hotels which are dependent on our city and region to remain competitive in the business of attracting overnight visitors to destination San Diego. I read with interest your recent post regarding the issues involved in expanding the Convention Center.
There are many ideas being discussed back and forth on ways this can all come to fruition. What I see dominating the discussion is the self interest of different political groups (only marginally involved in the visitor industry) jockeying for positions of control of how certain benefits are doled out.
I hope you will remind your readers that the core issue is one of expanding the “pie” defined as a more competitive San Diego destination capable of attracting a larger share of the overnight tourism pie. Overnight visitors staying in a hotel room pay the room tax (TOT), which pays for marketing and operational expenses of Convention Center and related expenses.
It also pays the indebtedness for center expansion. The region (destination) will benefit by being able to attract and book larger more lucrative conventions (think Comic Con). TOT can only be collected from a paid occupied hotel room, no other way.
Some complain that only the big box downtown hotels will benefit the most.
Well, yes that’s only logical but not reason enough to muddle the core reason of expanding the tourism pie which in turn benefits all businesses in San Diego beginning with hotels, restaurants, attractions, taxis, dry cleaners and so on and on.
The industry pays its own way via the collection of the TOT on an occupied and paid hotel room. The Convention Center expansion will bring larger conventions occupying additional hotel rooms, collecting increased TOT and enlarging the visitor industry pie.
Governance of this plan must be logically left to the industry which is responsible to fill hotel rooms with representatives of other tourism stakeholders also in the controlling body. Who’s better qualified to administer the plan than those who are responsible for collecting the TOT? It is time for the visitor industry to speak up in a unified voice and keep San Diego on the path of growing its visitor industry business.
Charles W. “Jack” Giacomini represents the Hotel Managers Group.
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