Biz Buzz: Paso Robles renews hotel tax used to promote tourism

The Paso Robles City Council has renewed a 2 percent tax on hoteliers to help fund tourism promotion.

The monthly levy is collected from hotel room receipts and goes into a fund maintained by the city’s tourism business improvement district advisory board, the Travel Paso Robles Alliance. No one protested the renewal, according to the city.

The group of hoteliers and marketing professionals asked to form the self-imposed fee in 2008 after a countywide effort to do so failed. Other cities in the county have since formed similar hotel levy districts.

Paso Robles’ assessment is collected on top of a 10 percent bed tax that goes to the city’s general fund to pay for services like police and fire.

The renewed levy is expected to generate $522,000 this year for the alliance’s efforts to promote Paso Robles and its surrounding attractions. The exact income fluctuates year to year based on room and occupancy rates.

From February to October 2010 — the most recent data available — the levy generated nearly $347,000, according to the alliance’s annual report.

In that same time, the alliance spent 93 percent of that income, saving about $24,000. The bulk of the expenses went to four staff members to run social media and public relations campaigns, according to the report. In the $167,000 effort, the alliance grew its Facebook fan base by 3,000 people from 2009 to 2010. Social networking allowed the alliance to link fans to blog entries about things to do and places to eat in town, among other promotions.

Other expenditures ranged from advertising, developing and mailing the Paso Passport Visitor’s Guide to creating the tourism website

— Tonya Strickland

The San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce is welcoming eight newly elected members to its board of directors, along with incoming Chairman Michael Gunther.

Chamber members voted in a recent online election to place these eight members on the board:

RRM Design Group CEO Erik Justesen.

Clever Ducks COO Amy Kardel.

Rademaker Design owner Pierre Rademaker.

Mission Community Bank CEO Anita Robinson.

Attorney John Spatafore.

Thoma Electric Inc. President Bill Thoma.

Longcrier & Associates CPAs manager Hillary Trout.

Digital West Networks Inc. President Tim Williams.

The newly elected members will join those continuing as directors:

Pacific Energy Co. President and owner John Ewan.

Collaboration President Michael Gunther.

TekTegrity CEO Russ Levanway.

Cal Poly Dean of Research and Graduate Programs Susan Opava.

Madonna Enterprises Real Estate Manager Clint Pearce.

The Tribune President and Publisher Bruce Ray.

iiiDesign Creative Director and Principal Missy Reitner-Cameron.

United Way of San Luis Obispo County COO Charlene Rosales.

Mindbody CEO and founder Rick Stollmeyer.

Talley Vineyards and Talley Farms President Brian Talley.

Promega Biosciences President Kristen Yetter.

Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center Associate Director Ron Yukelson.

The chairman of the board also appoints one member. This year’s board appointee is Matthew Woods, vice president and general manager of AEE Solar, the sister company of REC Solar.

The board consists of 21 members and serves as the chamber’s policy-making body.

The installation of the newly elected officers will take place at the chamber’s 106th annual dinner Jan. 22 at the Embassy Suites in San Luis Obispo.

— Stacy Daniel