San Diego tourism funding placed on hold: Spring campaign attracting tourists to San Diego delayed

SAN DIEGO -  

San Diego's tourism resurgence could suffer a setback. A multi-million dollar campaign to promote "America's Finest City" this spring has been put on hold.

"Every city in the western U.S. is gunning for our tourists and our conventioneers," said Bob Rauch, who owns an inn in Carmel Valley. "We need to spend to stay competitive."

Rauch is one of several San Diego hotel owners who contribute money to the city's tourism marketing district, which partners with the city and promotes San Diego as a vacation destination.

But recently, Citizens for Open Government sued the city, saying the money collected is a tax and not an assessment, as it is supposed to be.

So, there is concern from city leaders – specifically San Diego mayor Bob Filner – about using the tourism marketing dollars already collected to promote San Diego until the two lawsuits are settled.

However, other cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Dallas are already spending big bucks promoting themselves as the place to spend spring break and summer. 

San Diego tourism leaders say their campaign to attract tourists is already two weeks behind schedule.

"Well short-term, we probably won't feel anything in February, but I would worry by March and April… All the money that is spent in the tourism industry is very last-minute booking," said Rauch.

Tourism is San Diego's third largest industry, generating 163,000 hospitality jobs and generating more than $7 billion in revenue to the city.

Hotel owners said they have plenty of reasons to be worried if the mayor does not release the money now.

"We're going to lose market shares," said Rauch.

So, 10News asked Mayor Filner about it. 

"I haven't decided those issues yet," he said. "I hope to discuss it next week, I hope."

Rauch said tourism industry leaders need to keep pushing the San Diego City Council and Filner to get those funds released.

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