Sherryl L. Parks | Kalamath Drive
For over a year now the City has been collecting monies at 1% per room from hotel visitors earmarked to better brand and market Del Mar and to implement a strategy to encourage tourism. Instead of the city making decisions about how to spend approximately $130,000 collected so far, the Council created the Del Mar Tourist Business Improvement District (DMTBID) which can decide on its own how to use this money. A portion of the money is dedicated to the Del Mar Village Association (DMVA).
DMTBID is authorized to receive and spend these visitor dollars until September 2015. Its board is composed of all six lodging businesses: L’Auberge Del Mar (Chairman Mike Slosser), Del Mar Inn, Stratford Inn, Del Mar Motel, Les Artistes and Secret Garden Inn. For more than 15 months they have studied TBID strategies in other cities in California, notably San Francisco and San Diego. The hotels paid $7,500 for City staff time and the legal fees to establish ‘Visit Del Mar’ as a non-profit corporation.
The budget for the TBID is based upon the following:
-Tourism Promotion/Special events 74% of the budget.
-DM Commercial Zone Improvements 10%.
-DMVA Downtown Program 10%.
-Administration expenses 5%.
-City of DM collection costs 1%.
In the next five months Visit Del Mar will meet frequently to begin to implement the program. One of the first goals is to design a new website to attract on-line registration at any of the hotels in town and to promote Del Mar, rather than other coastal cities. A public relations firm will likely be hired. Thinking creatively about what Del Mar has to offer and how it might best be packaged to bring more tourists to town is the long-term goal. Blending nicely into this program is the fact that most of the hotels have recently undergone major remodeling of rooms and several have added spas offering tourists even more services when visiting us.
A report to the City Council is required within a year of receiving these tax dollars. The annual report and proposed budget will be coming soon to the Council.
DMVA member, Linda Rock, voiced a warning as she reminded the new board to avoid duplication of efforts with other non-profits in town, specifically the Garden Club (Streetscape planning). In general, coordinating with already existing non-profits, who offer a variety of events and services, would be important as Visit Del Mar grows.
Finally, Mayor Carl Hilliard urged the board to investigate available grant money from the San Diego Foundation for revitalization and events. The Del Mar Foundation also has grant opportunities. Putting time and effort into applications could be a profitable payoff to Visit Del Mar.
Ultimately, the measure of benefit for our City should be based on increased room rentals. But this will be difficult to measure as the economy improves and general tourism in Diego increases. The bottom line question is could the benefit to Del Mar be better spent by the City funding more services and improvements to the commercial zone directly.