Visalia hoteliers are stepping up to the plate to promote tourism to the city. On October 16 they asked the Visalia City Council to approve their plan to form the Visalia Tourism Marketing District (VTMD). The council approved the plan and will hold a final public hearing on December 4.
The Hoteliers hope to create a revenue source devoted to marketing Visalia as a tourist, meeting, and event destination. Tourism Districts have been successful in marketing and increasing hotel occupancy rates throughout the United States.
In California there are more than 100 tourism marketing districts including Fresno, Stockton, Davis, Bishop, and Madera County that have raised over $225 million to promote tourism.
The District will be funded through a 2% assessment on the room rates of each hotel property in the district and will be paid by hotel guests. Assessments will not be collected on stays of more than 30 days.
According to the consulting agency that put together the proposal, Civitas, the district could generate approximately $600,000 a year to promote travel and tourism in Visalia. City staff believes the revenue may be higher than $600,000 based on the most recent hotel reports.
The city anticipates $30 million or more hotel revenues for 2018.
The proposed VTMD includes all hotels located within the boundaries of Visalia that have more than 20 hotel rooms. Out of the 18 lodging facilities in Visalia, 15 would be included in the proposed district
Murphy’s Motel, Relax Inn and the Spaulding House Bed and Breakfast are not included in the plan because they have fewer than 20 rooms.
The VTMD will have a five-year life span beginning January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2022. Every year there will be a 30-day period in which owners paying more than 50% of the assessment may initiate a city council hearing on VTMD termination if the hotel owner feels the district is not working.
After five years, the members can vote to keep or disband the program.
The VTMD is similar to the Downtown Property-Based Business Improvement District (PBID,) that periodically has to go through a recertification process amongst its members. As with the PBID, the city will be responsible for collecting the assessment on a monthly basis and will be compensated 1% of the proceeds which will be approximately $6,000 a year.
Anil Chagan, owner of the Downtown Comfort Suites and the Hampton Inn in Visalia, is chairing the VTMD committee.
Also on the committee are Samantha Rummage-Mathias of the Wyndham Inn, Carrie Groover of the Marriott and Robert Lee of the Lampliter Inn.