Citing the need for a unified tourism marketing approach, San Luis Obispo County supervisors Tuesday approved a petition that would begin the process of establishing a countywide Tourism Marketing District.
If approved, an assessment of 1 percent would be levied on the rent charged for occupied tourist rooms per night in the county. This is expected to generate $2.8 million a year for marketing the county to tourists.
The district is based on successful Tourism Business Improvement Districts in most of the cities and some of the unincorporated areas of the county, said Stacie Jacob, chief executive officer of Visit San Luis Obispo County.
“We want to increase the time tourists stay in the county and reduce duplications of effort among the cities,” she said.
In order to gain final approval, the district will be the subject of two hearings at which businesses subjected to the assessment would have the opportunity to lodge a protest. The dates of the hearings are March 10 and April 7.
The goal is to have the district up and running by July, Jacob said.
The proposal enjoys the support of a majority of the lodging business owners based on petitions filed by them to form the district. About a dozen of them spoke in favor of the district at Tuesday’s meeting.
“The district would remove duplicate marketing efforts and allow us to coordinate with other communities like Morro Bay,” said Mike Hanchett of the Cavalier Oceanfront Resort in San Simeon. “I think this is a great thing, and I request that you move forward.”
Clint Pearce of the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo agreed, adding that the proposal has been well thought-out. “This is a really fair way to promote all of our members,” he said.
Supervisor Bruce Gibson was the only one to raise concerns. At his request, additional language was added to the petition that further explained how the district’s 15-member board of directors would be appointed.
“In general, this is a good thing, but the governing structure must be accountable to those who pay the assessment,” he said.