Board approves tourist tax

June 4, 2014 

The Madera County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 Tuesday to approve the request of the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau for the county to continue its agreement to collect and distribute funds raised by the lodging industry for tourism promotion for the next 10 years. Supervisor Manuel Nevarez was absent from the meeting.

Bureau Chief Executive Officer Dan Cunning said the unanimous vote by the board was a validation of the bureau's past efforts and a vote of confidence in the bureau's future.

"Being recognized and appreciated for our efforts as the official Destination Marketing Organization for Madera County was truly something special," Cunning said after the vote. "With the renewal of our Tourism Improvement District we will be able to continue to promote Madera County and all the great offering of our unique and beautiful region to potential visitors worldwide. We are so thankful for the destination and the opportunity to continue to serve all of our residents and Partner's in Tourism.

The Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) agreement, established by the bureau in 2009, ends Dec. 31. The 10-year renewal will run from Jan. 5, 2015, through Jan. 4, 2025.

An alternative funding source, the TBID was established after the county cut the bureau's $260,000 annual funding during January, 2010 budget hearings. Prior to the cut, the county provided funds to the visitor's bureau marketing efforts for more than 20 years.

The Tourism Business Improvement District has allowed the lodging industry located in the unincorporated areas of the county to add a 2% assessment to the then 9% county hotel transient occupancy tax (bed tax), with the additional 2% earmarked exclusively to the bureau. The county approved the TBID, and agreed to collect and distribute the funds for the bureau for five years.

Funds from the TBID, collected by nearly 70 hotels, motels, resorts, B&Bs, campgrounds, vacation home rentals, and RV resorts throughout the county, has provided the bureau with about $450,000 a year over the past five years. The bureau's current annual budget is $550,00, with the additional $100,000 raised by the bureau through memberships, visitor center gift shop, advertising opportunities, and other revenue sources.

The funds will be used by the bureau for sales and marketing (80% - $360,000), administration (17.5% - $78,750), contingency (2% - $9,000), and county collection costs (2% - $2,250).

Lodging sales have grown in the county from $759,940 in 1977-1978 to $22.7 million in 2012-2013. Bed tax from those sales have provided the county $38,000 in 1977-1978 and more than $2 million in 2012-2013.

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