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San Diego Council Approves $57.5 Million Tourism Budget

The City Council today unanimously approved a $57.5 million budget for the San Diego Tourism Marketing District for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The TMD, which was caught in a tug-of-war between former Mayor Bob Filner and hotel owners two years ago, promotes San Diego as a vacation destination and provides funds for events that draw tourists to town.

One of the larger budget items for the district is an outgrowth of that dispute — a $19.5 million reserve fund to protect against ongoing litigation.

The TMD receives money from a 2 percent surcharge on hotel room rates — on top of the city's regular room tax. That funding mechanism has been challenged in court as an illegal tax.

The district will also provide $26.5 million to the San Diego Tourism Authority, which purchases advertising and seeks out bookings for major trade shows at the convention center. According to a TMD presentation, the SDTA is hoping to reach 1 billion views of its paid advertising in the upcoming fiscal year.

The funding awards to organizations that put on special events include:

— $450,000 to the San Diego Bowl Game Association, which organizes the Poinsettia and Holiday bowl college football games;

— $300,000 to the Competitor Group for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon;

— $200,000 to the Century Club for the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament;

— $165,000 to the organizers of the San Diego Crew Classic rowing event on Mission Bay; and

— $150,000 to the California State Games, an Olympics-style athletic event held each summer.

The TMD will also fund three organizations for the first time — the California Police Athletic Federation for the U.S. Police & Fire Championships, $60,000; Koz Events for the Campagnolo Gran Fondo bicycle ride, Mission Bay Sprint Triathlon and Mission Bay Triathlon, $30,000; and LGBT Pride for its "Out at the Park" event, $25,000.

TMD Executive Director Lorin Stewart said the agency plans to begin outreach efforts this fall to make sure organizations are aware that the funding is available, and how the money is to be used.