The cost to promote tourism in Temecula is largely being paid for by local hotels, and it will continue that way.
An annual agreement to levy a tax on Temecula hotels was renewed Tuesday between the city of Temecula, the 15 lodging businesses that currently make up the Temecula Valley Tourism Business Improvement District and the Temecula Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau. The assessments, which represent 4 percent of room rates collected, are in turn used to promote Temecula as a tourism destination.
For fiscal year 2013-14, the revenue generated from the tax is expected to reach $1.34 million.
The room rate tax has been in place in Temecula since 2005. This year, all 15 members of the tourism district agreed once again it was beneficial.
“It is good to have a successful year behind us and another one in front of us,” said Tom DeMott, general manager of Temecula Creek Inn.
Recent results show that during 2012-2013, occupancy at the city’s hotels and other lodging establishments has increased 3.7 percent over the previous year while the average daily room rate has increased 8.4 percent to $96.91, according to a city staff report.
The city receives up to 2 percent of the assessments, or approximately $26,770, to offset administrative costs, according to city staff.
City Councilman Chuck Washington called it a “win-win” and congratulated the lodging businesses on a profitable year.
“Because we know that when you bring people in to stay at your hotels, they spend money here in Temecula...it is not the city taxing you, but you asking those visitors to pay a little extra and then you take that money and turn it around and we all win,” Washington said.
As part of the agreement, some of the perks for hotels include half-page ads in a visitors guide and display ads on the Temecula Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau website. Guests can also book rooms via the website.
Though member hotels gave nothing but praise of the program, one member of the public questioned it.
“This is a tax, a tax on the hotel industry,” said Ernie White, whose wife, Jamie White, recently ran unsuccessfully for City Council. “It is just another way to get more money where we know there is some money hiding.”
City staff clarified that it was not a tax on residents; rather it is collected through guests to the city.
Councilman Jeff Comerchero lauded the apparent success of the program.
“We turn around and give it back to them so they can spend it to increase tourism in the city,” Comerchero said. “I don’t know how it gets any better than that.”