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Cities OK 1.5% Lodging Tax to Boost Tourism Marketing

April 15, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

The Camarillo (Calif.) City Council on Wednesday (April 13) unanimously approved a resolution supporting the formation of a Tourism Business Improvement District.

City council members in Camarillo, Ventura and Oxnard have all voted to form the joint special district to promote their cities.

Under the agreement, hotels, motels and RV parks would be assessed 1.5% of their total rental revenue to finance a marketing campaign to attract tourists. The five-year assessment is expected to raise about $1.2 million annually.

As the lead agency for the tourism district, Ventura passed a resolution on March 21 requesting that Oxnard and Camarillo approve the special assessment. A public notice was then sent to hotels, motels and RV parks that would be included in the district, the Ventura County Star reported.

Oxnard approved their resolution on April 5.

“Ventura was the lead city and by law, Oxnard and Camarillo needed to vote on a resolution,” Camarillo City Manager Bruce Feng said Wednesday. “If we were not to approve this tonight, they would need to start over and recreate the legal paperwork for the two cities.”

The Ventura City Council will consider a final resolution on May 9 to officially form the tourism district. Collection of the fees from the businesses should begin by June 1.

The idea was developed about two years ago when general managers from seven hotels in the three cities discussed the challenges they faced during the economic downturn.

The general managers formed the Lodging Alliance Group, which hired Studio City-based Civitas Advisors to manage the legal process for creating the district.

About 60 to 65 hotels, motels and RV parks in the three cities will participate, Civitas officials said.

Hoteliers representing more than 50% of the proposed assessment — or at least $600,000 — had to sign the petition in support of the Tourism Business Improvement District.

About 81% of Camarillo hoteliers signed the petition, said Mitchell Crespi, general manager of the Courtyard by Marriott in Camarillo.

“For us, it’s only a win-win situation,” Crespi said. “We all went to the other hotels and they also said they have no problems paying this tax.”

Gary Wartik, former economic development manager for Thousand Oaks and a member of the Ventura County Workforce Investment Board (WIB), said approval of the tourism district would have a multiplier effect.

“We are always looking at what we can do to generate new jobs and job training and the WIB has looked at this issue and is very supportive with the adoption of this because we see that there is also a job and training opportunity,” Wartik said. “In addition, I see this as a benefit because it will help generate economic activity throughout the west county, not only in hotels, but gas stations, restaurants and local retail. This is a win-win for all of us and the best part is it is not at the taxpayers’ expense.”

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