Tourism Authority officials say they will close up shop effective Monday, June 3 and city officials react.
The San Diego Tourism Authority announced Thursday that it will suspend operations citing the lack of funding from the Tourism Marketing District (TMD).
The TMD funds have been frozen for weeks as part of an ongoing political and legal battle between the city’s hotel industry and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.
At issue: whether the TMD, a creation of the city's hotel industry, has the legal power to impose the 2-percent room surcharge that the city has been collecting at the rate of $30 million a year.
Filner said TMD will get its millions once it pays the 5-percent 'off the top' or $300,000 that it owes Balboa Park.
SDTMD Chairman Terry Brown issued a statement saying the board committed to funding the Centennial as stated in the agreement with the city.
“Unfortunately, the amount of money available for disbursement was less than the mayor wanted and he indicated that he would continue to withhold the tourism funding. Withholding the funding not only hurts the region's economy and tourism jobs, it also prevents funding of the centennial,” Brown was quoted in the TMD release.
Filner told NBC 7 San Diego that he's tired of “the rich hotels jerking around.” He says it knows it’s the end of the deal and TMD is not following its part of the agreement.
After TMD announced it would close its doors, Filner released the following statement:
“I have had enough of the whining and complaining from the wealthiest hotels in America. It was only days ago that they submitted a bill! We will issue their money when they hold up their end of the bargain, for example, approving payments to the Balboa Park Centennial. This idle and baseless threat is beneath them and I urge them to grow up and do business the right way. The City of San Diego will not be held hostage by such antics.”
Eight-five people working at the Authority’s Visitor Information Center on Harbor Drive will be affected if operations cease Monday said San Diego Tourism Authority spokesperson Darren Pudgil.
The employees booking the convention center will not be affected since they are funding through a contract with the San Diego Convention Center Corp.