What is a Tourism Improvement District?
As the economy struggles, marketing efforts are an increasingly important aspect of maintaining a popular destination. Tourism improvement districts (TIDs) provide stable funding for the necessary marketing to keep a destination competitive in a difficult economy. As cities and countries are forced to sacrifice tourism promotion funds, TIDs provide funding to supplement or replace those monies. Because TID funds are not controlled by a government entity, they cannot be subjected to the budget cuts municipalities have been forced to make.
A TID is a stable source of funding for marketing efforts designed to increase occupancy and room rates for lodging businesses. Funds raised through a small assessment on lodging stays are used to provide services desired by and directly benefitting the businesses in the district.
TIDs can have many functions, all of which are aimed at increasing tourism. A TID's operations are determined by the businesses funding the TID. TID activities can include print and internet advertising, visitor center operations, sales lead generation, and many other marketing efforts. TID advantages include:
- They provide a stable funding source for tourism promotion
- They are designed and created by those who pay the assessment
- They are governed by those who pay the assessment
- Funds cannot be diverted for government programs
A new non-profit corporation can be formed to manage district funds, or an existing corporation (such as the Economic Development Council) can fill this role. The businesses forming the TID decide how the corporation will be structured and who will manage it.
TIDs are funded through an assessment on certain lodging stays. The amount of the assessment is determined by business owners at the formation of the district, within particular legal guidelines. Certain types of stays can be exempt from the assessment if they are not procured as a result of district activities. Funds raised through the assessment must be spent for the benefit of the businesses paying the assessment. Funds raised through a TID cannot be diverted to government programs.
Siskiyou Tourism Improvement District
The Siskiyou Economic Development Council has been working with lodging property owners across Siskiyou County since 2011 to determine how to boost the travel and tourism industry across the county. The SEDC connected these stakeholders with resources at the state level to develop a Siskiyou County Tourism Marketing Plan. This plan made several valuable suggestions, one of which was to develop a Tourism Improvement District so as to have a stable and sustainable source of funding to market the region as a travel destination.
Fast forward to early 2015 and a committed group of lodging property owners from across the county have come together in conjunction with the SEDC to finalize the district. This steering committee, along with the SEDC and Civitas Advisors, have worked diligently to gain 70% (and counting) support from lodging property owners across the county.
The district was officially formed in the Spring of 2015 and raises approximately $450,000 annually to promote Siskiyou as a travel and tourism destination.