A bill to help Arizona cities and counties better market their best features to would-be tourists has passed its first hurdle in the state Legislature.
The measure, SB 1335, would allow for the creation of funding vehicles, called Tourism Marketing Authorities (TMAs), that collect fees assessed on sold hotel and resort guest rooms. Those fees would then be allocated to cities and counties to use for marketing campaigns.
Currently, there are 180 TMAs across the U.S. If approved in Arizona, this could give communities a leg up in competing for visitors, advocates said.
“The travel and tourism industry is a critical element of Arizona’s growing economy that must be protected,” said Kim Sabow, president and CEO of the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association. “Each year, more than 45 million visitors explore the diverse attractions in Arizona infusing nearly $25 billion into our state. But we need to do more to stay competitive with other regions across the nation.”
Sponsored by Sen. Tyler Pace, (R), Mesa, and Sen. Sean Bowie (D), Ahwatukee, the bill was approved by the Senate Finance Committee, 8-2.
Chambers, hotels, tourism groups and sports teams support bill
Dozens of municipal hotels, chambers of commerce, sports teams and others are publicly backing the measure. Among them: the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury, Omni Resorts, Enchantment Resort, Sedona Lodge, Hassayampa Inn, Westroc Collection and HSL Properties.
“The establishment of Tourism Marketing Authorities will provide much-needed resources to ensure that localities are able to expand their marketing efforts to attract more visitors,” Sabow said. “Our diverse coalition is a testament of how this industry impacts every corner of the state. In addition, Senator Pace has been steadfast in leading this bill and gaining the support of his colleagues at the Legislature. I thank him for his tireless work.”
How it works
Municipalities of any size and counties with fewer than 2 million residents would be able to form TMAs under the proposed bill. If a majority of hotels in the designated boundaries agree to create an authority district, assessments would be levied on sold hotel and resort guest rooms.
Hoteliers would vote on this assessment and have input on how the dollars are invested. TMAs can only be created if not less than 67 percent of represented hotels and resorts submit a petition to the applicable government body asking for the authority to be established.
Assessments would be remitted to the Arizona Department of Revenue that would allocate them to applicable communities. The dollar amount assessed would be determined by each authority.
Destination marketing organizations (DMOs) in jurisdictions with TMAs would use the money
for new sales, marketing and promotional projects. DMO boards also would oversee the TMAs, providing performance reports to participating county governments.
Tourism districts generate more than $420 million annually
To date, 180 of these agreements have been established in at least 15 states. Among those benefiting? Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, Napa Valley, Philadelphia, San Diego, and San Francisco.
Also referred to as Tourism Marketing Improvement Districts or Tourism Business Improvement Districts, they generated more than $420 million in marketing revenue last year, according to statistics compiled by Civitas Advisors that specializes in the creation of improvement districts.
If approved in Arizona, the legislation would go into effect Aug. 1.
TMAs provide a number of benefits, according to proponents:
- More visitors and visitor dollars to participating communities.
- More state, county and municipal tax revenue from visitors.
- More visitor revenue to pay for Arizona education, public safety and health care.
- More jobs
- New visitor marketing, sales and promotion tailored to the participating communities
Who’s backing the bill?
Tourism groups, hotels and resorts, chambers of commerce, sports teams, businesses and others across Arizona that support SB1335 include:
Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association
Collaborative Event Management
Go Lake Havasu
Greater Phoenix Chamber
Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort
Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, Arizona Chapter
Meeting Professionals International, Arizona Chapter
North Central Group
Ponderosa Hotel Management Sources
Prescott Office of Tourism
Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Ride Co.
Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau
Sedona Lodging Council
Tempe Tourism Office
Tucson Airport Authority
Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau
Young’s Market Company
For more information about the bill, go to: SB1335