A standoff in San Diego over funding to promote the destination ended last week when Mayor Bob Filner signed an agreement that would release $30 million in annual tourism marketing dollars.
The dispute began last November when Filner refused to sign a new agreement with the city’s Tourism Marketing District even after one was approved by the city council. The old deal expired December 31, 2012. According to reports, Filner sought an agreement that included better wages for hotel workers and more money for public works projects. The local hotel community runs the TMD. It is funded by a 2 percent hotel room surcharge that generates about $30 million annually for tourism marketing, including money for the San Diego Tourism Authority (formerly the San Diego CVB).
The TMD filed a lawsuit against the mayor for not signing the agreement, but the courts dismissed the lawsuit.
On March 26, the city council passed a resolution requiring Filner to sign the agreement that the council itself had approved last November, according to reports.
On March 28, the mayor relented, signing a new operating agreement for the TMD, effectively releasing the marketing dollars. The five-year deal includes a stipulation that protects taxpayers in case the TMD loses pending lawsuits that challenge the agency’s funding mechanism. It also sets money aside for the upcoming centennial celebration of Balboa Park and requires the city to hold a public hearing on how hotel workers might be covered under the city’s “living wage” ordinance.
A $5.4 million summer marketing campaign for the destination had already been postponed due to the standoff.
"This is indeed a good day for all San Diegans, including the thousands of men and women who work in the tourism industry,” said Terry Brown, president, Atlas Hotels and chairman of the TMD. “It was a difficult process to get here, but the most important part is that an agreement was reached to avert any further damage to the economy.”