OCEANSIDE — Eighty-four percent of Oceanside hotels say the Tourism Marketing District is doing a good job of generating tourism.
Josh Brandon, dual general manager of Residence Inn Marriott and Courtyard by Marriott, said a 10 percent increase in business at Marriott hotels could be credited to Visit Oceanside Conference & Visitors Bureau that manages Oceanside’s Tourism Marketing District.
“We’ve seen an increase in leisure travelers to the area, travelers who have more discretionary spending,” Brandon said. “The other side is the events Visit Oceanside brings to the city. It’s a huge boost for our hotels.”
Tourism Marketing District fees, paid by hotels, are used to promote Oceanside as an endurance sports destination and friendly beach town in close proximity to San Diego and Los Angeles.
“What’s unique about Oceanside is it’s not as commercialized as a lot of coastal cities,” Brandon said. “It has a small, surf town feel to it. There’s great local restaurants, micro breweries, it’s quite pleasant.”
Activities include skydiving, extensive bike trails and world-class surfing.
Crowd-drawing sports tournaments are held about once a month at the beach and harbor.
There is also the San Luis Rey Mission, California Surf Museum and Oceanside Museum of Art.
“We do have a lot of diversity,” Leslee Gaul, president and CEO of Visit Oceanside Conference & Visitors Bureau, said. “For people who want an authentic experience, Oceanside provides that.”
The Tourism Marketing District was formed in April 2010 in response to the city tightening its belt during the recession and using transit occupancy tax funds in the general fund budget for vital services before money could be spent on promoting tourism.
“We needed an alternate way to fund tourism marketing,” Gaul said.
In order to continue to promote tourism the options were to raise the transit occupancy tax or form a Tourism Marketing District, which would be funded by collecting 1.6 percent of revenues from hotels.
The city opted to start a Tourism Marketing District and began with collecting fees from hotels that have more than 30 rooms.
With the success of the Tourism Marketing District, City Council voted to acceptance the petitions by hotels to continue the district on Nov. 20.
“It does come back to us tenfold,” Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said. “It’s helping us make Oceanside a better Oceanside.”
The 10-year renewed agreement will begin in April 2015 and charge all hotels a Tourism Marketing District fee. Fees are collected by the city, which keeps 1.6 percent of the fees for administration costs.
Tourism Marketing District fees have given Visit Oceanside significantly more funds to use in its marketing efforts. Fees have helped promote the city to visitors, businesses, religious groups and sports tournaments that travel to Oceanside from Arizona, Nevada and the Inland Empire.
“We target the SMERF-type market — social, military, education, religious, and fraternal. Oceanside is perfect for that,” Gaul said.
In addition to promoting all that the city offers, Visit Oceanside also works with Oceanside police and businesses to encourage them to provide visitors with a memorable experience.
“We do a lot of work to make people think of themselves as ambassadors to the city,” Gaul said. “They are touch points for visitors.”
Tourism Marketing District fees have also allowed more staff to come on board at Visit Oceanside Conference & Visitors Bureau to target off-season visitors.
Future plans are to promote sports tournaments in the city’s inland areas and expand marketing efforts to draw in international travelers.