Tourism Investment District is what’s needed
In response to the county counsel’s concerns published last week, I’d like to respond to some of his concerns and make some points of my own.
Since the defunding of tourism, a group of concerned business people have invested their own time and money to create the Feather River Tourism Association (FRTA), and has raised 40k of their own money to kick start a tourism investment district (TID). Time is of the essence, as they have a tight schedule to adhere to get this going without having to invest more (of their own) money.
I am dismayed that none of the 9 percent TOT we collect goes toward tourism marketing what-so-ever. I am however, grateful that four members of the board of supervisors are now in support of FRTA forming a TID, recognizing that whatever time and support they can invest, is the least they can do.
I joined FRTA and fully support a larger marketing effort for Plumas County, even if not all parts of the county are on board — yet. FRTA has partnered with Civitas, and they have many case studies of successful counties and districts that have benefited from tourism assessment districts. Take Redding for example, they have the budget to advertise across many platforms, and it’s because of this they have been able to emerge strong from a devastating fire. It’s good to have marketing in place, not just for the good times, but to survive the down times as well.
Addressing the county counsel’s point of what explains the increase in TOT revenue when the county’s expenditure for tourism marketing decreased, I posit that the reason it did not sink into the abyss is because of the Bay Area’s robust comeback from the recession, kept money in people’s pockets to afford a little get-away. Had the county kept the tourism marketing intact, it could have been SO MUCH BETTER. Plumas County is competing with other counties that have tourism districts in place, and those other counties are getting a larger market share of tourism dollars.
People from the Bay Area, and larger cities, are used to spending 12 – 15 percent for taxes and fees above the room rate. This will not come as a surprise, nor will it deter them from staying here. Go ahead and check out Airbnb and see what they charge for cleaning and service fees, they are quite substantial, on top of TOT, yet people don’t flinch, it’s just part of doing business.
I have no plans to tailor back our own advertising for the Inn, because when you don’t advertise — nothing happens. We can not afford to fund major marketing strategies alone. We need a big budget, and one that will include the overhaul and upkeep of Plumascounty.org website, which will be the source folks will be directed to in advertising campaigns. I have found it to be the most useful site for in-depth information, and one that I use.
We discovered the software the county uses to process the collection of TOT charged by lodging providers is severely antiquated. FRTA decided it would be best if we collected the 2 percent TID fee, thereby eliminating the need for the county to expend any labor or money on our behalf.
What I’d really like to see happen, is when this gets going, other parts of Plumas County will want to jump on board and we can consolidate advertising to plug all of Plumas County as a world class destination. Envision how great this will be for everyone, and let’s give it a go!