San Diego hotel tax higher than expected, helps boosts city coffers

Better than expected leisure travel is helping boost revenues for the City of San Diego. 

Hotel tax, or TOT, which is typically the city’s third highest source of revenue was $9.2 million higher than expected last spring, jumping to $68.1 million.

According to this article from the San Diego Union Tribune, sales tax, property tax and consumer buying power has also played a role in the city’s revenue surge.

SDTMD Accepting Funding Applications For FY 2023 Through November 19

San Diego Tourism Marketing District (SDTMD) is accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2023 grants. 

Tourism generating events and programs occurring July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023 that can demonstrate an increase in stays at SDTMD-assessed hotels (City of San Diego hotels with 70 rooms or more) and a measurable return on investment (ROI) are encouraged to apply. 

Interested applicants can access the application through SDTMD’s online portal at beginning October 11. Applications must be completed by 5 p.m. on Friday, November 19, 2021.

Please reach out to the executive director with any questions.


If you live in San Diego, you should care about tourism. Here’s why.

San Diego is leading the nation in the tourism recovery.

In the nearly six months between reopening for leisure travel in March and Labor Day, San Diego has ranked in the top three U.S. travel destinations and the first in the Western region. Believe it or not, July 2021 was one of San Diego’s strongest months on record for hotel performance.

You might be asking how that can be?

SDTMD Helps Boost Tourism Recovery with $28 Million in Grants for Tourism Marketing In FY 2022

SDTA receives $26.6 million for destination marketing with an additional $1.6 million allotted to 12 tourism-generating events.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – August 5, 2020— The San Diego Tourism Marketing District (SDTMD) continues to be a catalyst for the City’s tourism recovery with $28 million in funding allocated for destination marketing programs in Fiscal Year 2022, which started July 1. San Diego Tourism Authority (SDTA), the City’s destination marketing organization, remains SDTMD’s primary beneficiary and will receive approximately $26.6 million. An additional $1.6 million will support 12 tourism generating events including Olympic-style athletic competitions, major youth soccer tournaments, food and wine festivals, cultural programs and more.

“Although our assessment collections are much lower this year due to the impact of the pandemic, we are fortunate to have SDTMD in place so that destination marketing can continue uninterrupted,” said Richard Bartell, SDTMD board chairman. “While many of our competitive destinations are struggling due to lack of funding, San Diego is ranked in the top three most popular U.S. destinations and first in the West among travelers and in a prime position for driving visitation through strategic marketing programs as the recovery continues.”

Most recent data for the week of July 4 shows San Diego averaged a citywide occupancy of 78.3 percent and a daily rate of $216, which was 13 percent above 2019’s pre-pandemic average daily rate for the same period.

Established in 2008, SDTMD collects a small assessment on room nights from City hotels with 70 rooms or more. These assessments are designated for the sole purpose of funding tourism marketing. Tourism marketing helps increase overnight hotel stays, which generate tax dollars to fund the City’s essential services, support thousands of direct tourism jobs and attract billions in visitor spending to the region.

Events receiving funding from SDTMD in FY22 include California State Games, San Diego Bayfair Thunderboats, San Diego Bay Food + Wine Festival, Wonderfront music festival, Best Coast Beer Fest, La Jolla Concours D’Elegance, U.S. Police and Fire Championships, San Diego Crew Classic, San Diego Holiday Bowl and elite ECNL boys’ and girls’ soccer tournaments. Collectively, these local events are projected to drive approximately 115,000 room nights to generate over $21 million in room night revenue in addition to TOT for the City and visitor spending at our restaurants, retail shops and other local businesses.

Funding awards are based on applicants’ ability to generate incremental room night stays, particularly in the off season, at SDTMD-assessed hotels in the City of San Diego and provide a measurable return on investment (ROI) on SDTMD dollars. Prior to the pandemic, SDTMD generated an average return on investment of over $19 for every SDTMD dollar invested.

For more information, visit

About San Diego Tourism Marketing District

The San Diego Tourism Marketing District (SDTMD) is a nonprofit, mutual-benefit corporation dedicated to improving lodging room night consumption in the City of San Diego. SDTMD provides a private, nonprofit funding vehicle to stimulate City of San Diego lodging room demand through tourism promotion, marketing and advertising programs. The judicious allocation of these resources creates a positive economic, fiscal and employment impact on lodging businesses in the City of San Diego. For more information, please visit:


SDTA’s Julie Coker Elected Vice-Chair of US Travel Association

Tourism advocacy has never been more important, and San Diego is fortunate to have a voice at the national table. Thanks to SDTA CEO Julie Coker who was recently elected board vice-chair of the U.S. Travel Association for her tireless dedication to guiding tourism’s recovery in San Diego and throughout the country.