A year's worth of discussions between representatives of the Dallas Arts District and the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau (DCVB) has resulted in an agreement to use hotel sales tax to promote the Dallas arts and culture scene next year.
The DCVB will be asking the Dallas City Council later this month to consider calling a public hearing on forming a Tourism Public Improvement District, or PID. Thanks to an alternation made during the last session of the Texas Legislature, it is no longer required that the District in a PID be confined within a set geographic area. The "district" in this case would be spread out all over the city, both in terms of how the money is collected, and how it is spent.
There are just over 100 hotels in Dallas with 100 or more rooms. If the Tourism PID is approved, then the large hotels would tack on an extra 2 percent in sales tax on guests' bills. The estimated $10 million generated from this tax next fiscal year would go towards drawing people to Dallas to hold conventions and/or vacation.
The goal of the PID for the DCVB would be to place Dallas back in the Top Five Destinations in the U.S., a spot it has not enjoyed for about 25 years.
According to the presentation made during today's Dallas Economic Development Committee meeting, the bulk of the money generated for the Tourism PID would be spent on advertising regionally, a la "What Happens in Vegas" and "Louisiana – Pick Your Passion."
Roughly $1 million would go towards entertaining groups of convention planners.
"We bring them into the city, we show them what we have to offer as a destination," says Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau President Phillip Jones. "We wine them and dine them and convince them to book their meetings in the city."
The agreement hashed out between Jones and Executive Director of the Dallas Arts Veletta Forsythe Lill stipulates that a portion of the $3 million earmarked for advertising be spent on promoting cultural tourism. In addition, if the Tourism PID is approved, the agreement calls for:
- The DCVB to hire a cultural tourism manager within 60 days;
- Representatives from the cultural tourism community will be asked to participated in developing the messaging included in the of the advertising campaign; and
- DCVB will consider using a sub-agency that specializes in cultural tourism.
"The arts community is pleased to see the Tourism Public Improvement District move forward," says Lill. "A part of the DCVB's marketing effort includes the establishment of a cultural tourism program that spotlights our diverse arts and cultural scene. We feel that is a strong part of the true identity of Dallas and we are eager to tell our stories."
According to Jones and the city's Director of Economic Development Karl Zavitkovsky, almost 70 percent of the hotels are on board with the idea, a solid majority and more than the state-required 60 percent. The additional 2 percent in sales tax, which would bring the total tax big on the large hotels to 15 percent, is in some ways not an increase, but rather a return to what has been standard in Dallas for around two decades. A 2 percent tax was added to all hotel bills in order to pay off the bonds for the American Airlines Center. Money from this tax came in faster than originally anticipated and the AAC was paid off early in September 2011.
On May 23, the Dallas City Council will decide whether or not to call a June 13 public hearing on the Tourism PID.
We'll keep you posted.