Ballots are out this month, giving assessed businesses the opportunity to weigh in on their future assessment rates, as Visit California works to protect the state’s share of tourism and maintain California’s position as a premier travel destination.
Ballots headed to mailboxes last week, and voting concludes Dec. 19. Results are expected just after the New Year, and the adjusted assessments will take effect July 1, 2015.
“The return on investment of Visit California’s advertising benefits all industry segments,” said Jot Condie, California Restaurant Association (CRA) president and CEO. (Condie also serves as vice chair of operations on the Visit California Board of Directors.) “The restaurant industry, especially, has the most to gain from the ‘Dream Big Dividend.’ ”
Under the current assessment model, restaurants and retail benefit most from tourism marketing as 45 percent of total visitor spending is on food, beverage and shopping, while the sector contributes just 5 percent of the Visit California marketing budget. In the “Dream Big Dividend” environment, the segment’s investment will remain at 5 percent of the overall budget.
California’s travel- and tourism-related businesses have joined forces for more than a decade to sell the California brand to the world. The investment returns more than $7 billion every year to the state’s businesses. But the buying power of the current $50 million funding level is being stretched thin by inflation and escalating advertising costs. Combined with competing destinations spending more than ever, California is losing global market share.
The one-time adjustment in assessment rates has the potential to more than double the ROI to California’s tourism businesses – an increase from today’s $6 billion to the “Dream Big Dividend” of $12.9 billion in incremental visitor spending, according to Visit California’s projections.
“The ‘Dream Big Dividend’ vote is critical to continuing our work inspiring visitors to come explore California,” Visit California President and CEO Caroline Beteta said. “It’s also a chance for each and every stakeholder to use their voice and make this decision together as an industry.”
Voting businesses are deciding between two funding options:
• Option A – the lower rate on the ballot – is recommended by the Visit California board and the “Dream Big Dividend” task force. It will achieve the optimal funding level three years after approval.
• Option B is a more aggressive rate that will achieve the optimal funding level the first year after approval.
For restaurants, the Option A assessment rate is 0.000975, from the current rate of 0.00065. Significantly, the “Dream Big Dividend” will allow deeper Visit California marketing programs around California’s culinary offerings, which could more than double the segments’ portion of incremental visitor spending to $1.9 billion.
The CRA encourages all assessed restaurants to participate in the vote. Vote by mail – or online at vote.visitcalifornia.com – by Dec. 19.
For more information on the “Dream Big Dividend” Competitiveness Initiative – including supporting research, ROI projections and restaurant-specific background – visit vote.visitcalifornia.com.