NAPA -- The proposal to form a Tourism Business Improvement District in Napa County gained further traction, as the city of St. Helena recently voted to join the effort to market the entire region as a tourist destination.
The Napa County Board of Supervisors urged each city to support the measure, and so far the cities of American Canyon, Napa and now St. Helena have all committed support.
Calistoga and Yountville are set to take up the measure as soon as April 6 to decide if they will agree to join the TBID, which would implement a 2 percent assessment on hotels’ visitors fees that would be distributed to a marketing fund in conjunction with the Napa Valley Destination Council.
Cindy Saucerman, executive director of the Yountville Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber was waiting to hear feedback from the various hoteliers there before making an official endorsement.
“The chamber has yet to really give its blessing,” she said. “We’re still waiting to hear from the City Council. Hopefully we’ll know where the hotels stand.”
Calistoga’s Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, has come out in support of the proposal and is urging a yes vote from the City Council.
In a letter to the Calistoga city manager, Executive Director Chris Canning said, “The chamber feels that there will be enough support from our lodging industry for the TBID to pass locally.” He continued: “This is an important endeavor, which will secure appropriate and greatly needed funding for destination marketing of Calistoga and the entire county.”
In order for cities to join the TBID, the 2 percent voluntary assessment must have approval from more than 50 percent of hotels and lodging businesses.
Clay Gregory, CEO of the Napa Valley Destination Council, has said the TBID could raise as much as $4 million annually. The participating cities each would then receive 25 percent of the revenue to supplement their own marketing plans, with the remaining 75 percent going toward the regional marketing effort.
Proponents have said implementing the TBID would have little impact on individual cities or businesses, since visitors — not hotels — would be paying the fee.
A staff report expressing support for the TBID by City Manager James McCann to the city of Calistoga said that, if approved, the TBID “presents no direct cost to the city,” and would generate approximately $125,000 for local tourism efforts.
“It is clear that sustained and substantial effort is essential to continue and enhance a healthy and vibrant tourism industry in our region,” the report said.
The fee from the TBID would be in addition to the various transit occupancy taxes of each participant. The TBID is voluntary, meaning that if a city council opts not to join, the regional marketing would not include that city or its hotels.
The funds generated for the countywide marketing plan would be overseen by a board of directors consisting of eight hoteliers, a representative from each city, one from the county and one person from the destination council.