Local tourism leaders address concerns about competition

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The San Diego tourism economy continues to grow, but there are some challenges ahead.

On Thursday, local leaders and business owners through-out the region attended the San Diego Tourism Authority’s annual meeting.

San Diego’s tourism numbers have risen steadily over the past two years, but tourism leaders are concerned things could go south as people choose to head north.

"Universal just spent 1.6 billion dollars to create Harry Potter and is expected to grow their attendance 20 percent this year to 8 million visitors just to Universal studios and then if you think about Anaheim, Disney continues to invest and they’re also spending over a billion dollars to create Star Wars Land," said Joe Terzi, CEO of San Diego Tourism Authority.

Terzi leads the group’s annual meeting. He said other challenges have to do with the two proposed ballot measures in San Diego.

The so-called Citizens’ Plan and the Chargers Stadium Plan that call for increasing the hotel tax.

" … and these two proposals are significantly hire than what we pay right now. The TOT tax in San Diego is at 10.5 percent. The one proposal will take it to 15.5 percent … The other to 16.5 percent. Which will put us at one of the highest TOT tax in the country," Terzi said.

"Where there needs to be a frank discussion on what that does for our tourism economy.  We’re the second largest contributor to the economy. People don’t understand that tourism drives San Diego and anything that you do that hurts tourism hurts San Diego," he added.

Last year, more than 34 million people visited San Diego, spending $9.9 billion and supported 183,000 jobs — totals higher than 2014, according to SDTA data.

The hotel tax across the country generated $246 million for the region.

No decisions came out of the Tourism Authority’s meeting, but it was a way to begin the conversation on how to keep San Diego a world-class destination.

Categories: Local San Diego News