SAN DIEGO – June 15, 2020—San Diego Tourism Marketing District (SDTMD) will award $32.3 million in funding for destination marketing programs for the 2021 fiscal year that starts on July 1. The budget was approved by San Diego City Council on June 9. The funds are made possible through a small assessment on each hotel room night that is for the sole purpose of funding tourism marketing for SDTMD member hotels.

“Despite facing a significant hit to our assessment collections due to the coronavirus, our City continues to have a productive public-private partnership in SDTMD,” said SDTMD Board Chair Richard Bartell. “Without it there would be little to no funds for tourism marketing, which is what drives visitation that generates tax dollars to fund the City’s essential services, supports thousands of direct tourism jobs and attracts billions in visitor spending.”

San Diego Tourism Authority (SDTA) will be the sole recipient of SDTMD’s $32.3 million in funding for FY21. The funding includes $11 million from SDTMD’s litigation reserve, which are funds previously set aside that are being re-deployed for their original purpose of generating stays at TMD-assessed hotels.

With these funds, SDTA plans to support tourism recovery by focusing on marketing campaigns that target a leisure audience in the drive market. “Happiness is Calling You Back” will attract drive-in visitors using images of wide-open spaces and outdoor recreation. SDTA’s strategy also will include a “Stay Diego” campaign that encourages residents to enjoy staycations.

Typically, SDTMD also awards competitive grants to a variety of independent tourism generating events. Given the current uncertainty around large
gatherings and reduced assessment collections due to the COVID-19 pandemic, funding for FY21 has been consolidated with the SDTA.

“It’s an atypical year for funding awards due to the pandemic and uncertain future we are currently facing,” said SDTMD Executive Director Colleen Anderson. “However, we are fortunate to have both government and industry stakeholders aligned behind maintaining the health and competitiveness of the San Diego tourism economy. With so many local jobs and tax dollars on the line, continued smart tourism marketing investment is imperative.”

Tourism is directly responsible for nearly 200,000 jobs in the region—more than any other industry. In FY19, tourism was also responsible for $249 million in hotel tax collected by the City of San Diego. The hotel tax is the city’s third-largest revenue source. Paid for by out-of-town visitors, it is vital to funding important City services including public safety, roads, parks, homeless services, sanitation, libraries and more. An $83 million loss in TOT is currently projected due to the recent coronavirus-related travel shutdown.

“We’ve witnessed first-hand what happens when our tourism economy stops working,” said Bartell. “Our residents are out of work and our City government is unable to fund the things that make San Diego an outstanding place to live, work and play.”

Each Fall, SDTMD accepts applications from organizations seeking funding for the upcoming fiscal year. Funding awards are allocated based on an applicant’s ability to generate a measurable return on investment by producing hotel room night stays in the City of San Diego. While SDTA is the primary beneficiary, some of the independent events that SDTMD has funded in previous years have included the California State Games, San Diego Bayfair Thunderboats, San Diego Spring Crew Classic, San Diego Beer Week, Holiday Bowl, San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival, San Diego Surf Cup Thanksgiving Challenge, USA Ultimate Frisbee and the United States Police and Fire Championships.
SDTMD was established in 2008 and collects a two percent assessment on room night stays at hotels in the City of San Diego with 70 rooms or more. SDTMD funds provide a stable, on-going source of funding for tourism promotion.

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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:

Shae Geary
(W)right On Communications


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