San Diego Business Journal

Tourism Authority Lays Off 31 Staff Members

Monday, July 29, 2013

The San Diego Tourism Authority, the region’s primary tourism promotion agency, has announced the layoff of 31 people, effective July 30. The move stems from legal issues related to disbursement of funds from a Tourism Marketing District that supplies the bulk of the Tourism Authority’s operating budget.

An agency statement noted that the Tourism Authority had warned of the potential layoffs in March, when it issued 60-day notices to all of its employees. The cuts being carried out represent nearly 40 percent of the agency’s 79-member staff.

Officials said the layoffs affect all departments and management levels, but do not impact 13 personnel involved in long-term booking of events at San Diego Convention Center, through a Tourism Authority contract with the city and center operators.

Further budget cuts are being considered, including reductions in supervisors’ pay.

Tourism officials have been forced to cut spending, as the city delays distribution of a large portion of hotel tax collections for the Tourism Marketing District, which is intended to raise $30 million annually through a surcharge on hotel room bills approved last year by hoteliers.

The city is only distributing collections from hotels that have signed a waiver aimed at protecting the city from future liability, in the event that the marketing district’s funding mechanism is overturned as a result of two pending private lawsuits.

So far, operators of less than a quarter of the 226 hotels in the marketing district have signed the waiver, tourism officials said.

— Lou Hirsh