Dear Friends of New Orleans Tourism,
Moments ago, a tremendous step forward for our industry and our businesses happened at the state capitol - Senate Bill 242 by Sen. Murray, our optional hotel assessment proposal that could increase sales and marketing resources by 70% to the CVB and NOTMC, and one of our cornerstone BCG Master Plan initiatives, was passed by the House of Representatives unamended and is on its way to Governor Jindal for signature into law!
The culmination of years of work and unprecedented industry partnerships, this legislation will create up to $12 million dollars in new sales and marketing funds to promote New Orleans as a top tier destination for leisure visitors, conventions, meetings, business travel and special events. It will also establish, for the first time, a much needed, and long overdue, source of dedicated funding for our most important national treasure, the Vieux Carré. In addition to marketing the city for visitors, funds will be dedicated to improve French Quarter infrastructure, public safety, code enforcement, quality of life, and basic needed services.
We estimate that this new funding will create 5,000 new jobs and generate $500 million in additional economic impact over the next eighteen months. We should see further gains in our destination market share, drive new attendance at every cultural attraction, attract more diners to restaurants, put more musicians to work, produce more customers for shops and artists, and create a better quality of life for New Orleans citizens in every neighborhood.
On behalf of the entire tourism industry, I want to express special gratitude to our hotel community, owners and general managers as they have stepped up for our thousands of businesses and 78,000 employees in a major way. No other industry sector has made such a visionary, unselfish gesture to assess fees on their own businesses to drive the economy, create jobs and invest in our fragile French Quarter to make it safer and cleaner for all.
We could not have accomplished this victory without Senator Edwin R. Murray, Representative Walt Leger, III, Representative Jared Brossett, Senator J.P.Morrell, Representative Kirk Talbot, Representative Helena Moreno, Representative Austin Badon and the other legislators who have carried the torch for our industry ... for this we will be eternally grateful.
We also profoundly thank Gregory Rusovich, Darryl Berger, Robert Bray, Andy Kopplin, Ron Forman, Stan Harris, Mark Romig, Joe Blanchek, Toni Rice, Michael Smith, Tod Chambers, Mavis Early, Melvin Rodrigue, Steve Pettus, Bob Johnson, Doug Thornton, Harrah's Dan Real, Al Groos, Steve Caputo, Amy Reimer, Jim Cook, Ted Selogie, the entire boards of NOTMC, CVB and GNOHLA, and our incomparable lobbying team led by C.J. Blache.
Overview of SB 242
To give further insight to anyone who might not have been as closely involved in each step along the way, SB 242 is not a tax; it is a voluntary assessment in which hotels have the option of adding the assessment/surcharge to the folio of the hotel guest, as they might a resort fee. Participation is optional at all times to every hotel. Of course, the New Orleans CVB as a non-profit membership organization can assess fees on its members at any time, without going through the legislature, but we wanted to be extra transparent. This bill also makes sure the assessments are not taxed, thus protecting the consumer.
Orleans Parish members of GNOHLA will vote in a referendum whether to approve or disapprove the assessment. At least 66% of the eligible member hotels by room complement must vote in the affirmative for the assessment to be adopted. GNOHLA will conduct the referendum.
The assessment will be capped at 1.75 % of the daily room charge to the guests' folio. Of this, 1.5 % of the proceeds collected by this voluntary assessment will go to the marketing and sales efforts of the CVB and the NOTMC. The Multicultural Tourism Network will also share in new revenues. The remaining .25 % will fund public safety, code enforcement, sanitation, infrastructure repair and other services in the French Quarter. The specific use of the designated .25 % will be determined in the course of the normal annual budgeting process, carried out by the Mayor and City Council with citizen input. A Cooperative Endeavor Agreement would be developed between the New Orleans CVB and the City of New Orleans outlining the parameters.
Strategic Master Plan
Never before have we been so close to accomplishing the goals set forth in the Boston Consulting Group's (BCG) 2010 Strategic Master Plan for our industry, which aims to attract 13.7 million visitors, create $11 billion in direct spending and 33,000 additional jobs by 2018.
A Holistic Vision
The assessment is only one piece of the holistic vision that will be implemented over the next five years leading up to the city's 300th birthday in 2018:
EXTENDING OUR GLOBAL REACH - No longer will we have to say that we are dramatically underfunded compared to competitor cities. The additional marketing funds will allow the NOTMC to extend the reach of its brilliant new national leisure campaign "Follow Your NOLA" to larger markets such as New York, Los Angeles, etc.
The CVB will be able to expand our direct selling with additional positions to grow corporate and incentive business coming to the city. It will allow us to increase our presence in international markets, expand our current marketing and public relations efforts and so much more.
NEW AIRPORT - Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the New Orleans Aviation Board recently announced that a new world class airport will be built. The development of the new facility is a critical piece in transforming our hospitality infrastructure and is critical to our brand and world competitiveness.
NEW CONVENTION CENTER BLVD - In addition to the stunning new Great Hall that recently opened, a Convention Center vision plan is underway that includes the riverfront and Convention Center Boulevard, the building, and the expansive Phase IV property.
NEW RIVERFRONT - A united industry effort filed by the Tricentennial Consortium will create a new vision for an iconic demand generator, world class facility, architectural edifice, landscape or like stunning public use of the current World Trade Center Property in a manner that has huge public and civic buy-in and broad public appeal.
NEW CONVENTION SALES STRATEGY - Earlier this month, the CVB announced the appointment of Brad Weaber, CMP, a 25-year meeting industry veteran, who has served as executive vice president of both SmithBucklin and Experient, to a new CVB leadership position of executive vice president. Brad is charged with creating a new, enhanced strategic direction for New Orleans as a convention destination, re-engineering and enhancing the production and the value of the CVB and the way we service customers in todays' rapidly changing meeting environment.
NEW NATIONAL TEMPLATE - The hotel assessment funding mechanism is an innovative new generation example of public-private partnerships that drive job creation and business growth. It puts New Orleans on a platform as a destination as we are setting an example for other cities around the country. Our new assessment will likely become a national best practice.
It also reinforces the role of the CVB as more than a nationally accredited destination marketing organization. We are a comprehensive trade organization representing New Orleans' entire cultural and traveler economy. We are fierce advocates for our members, our partners, our customers and local residents. We are stewards of our cultural economy and protectors of our historic neighborhoods. Please click here for the CVB's annual report for 2012, our 52nd year of driving New Orleans' economy and creating jobs through tourism, business travel, conventions meetings, festivals and special events.
It is an exciting day for us all. Congratulations and thank you for all that you do to make New Orleans a top destination year after year. The best is yet to come.
President & CEO
New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau