Business leaders say this city has everything it needs to become a destination spot for out-of-town travelers except for one thing: a marketing campaign.
City Council members have been reluctant to approve an increase in the city's hotel occupancy tax to pay for the Destination Irvine marketing proposal. But business leaders say a compromise may be in the works.
When the city's hotel occupancy tax was raised from 6% to 8% in July, 1983, to help cover a budget shortfall, city officials promised to reduce the tax to 7% once the budget was balanced.
Councilwoman Christina L. Shea has proposed leaving the rate at 8% and using that additional 1% to fund the marketing campaign.
Shea said owners and managers of the city's nine major hotels have "done their homework" in promoting their businesses and deserve some help from a portion of the occupancy tax. "I've always believed it takes money to make money," Shea said.
Occupancy rates throughout the city have been relatively flat, according to Irvine Marriott Hotel General Manager Tom Limberg, president of the Irvine Chamber of Commerce. Surrounding cities with established visitor and convention bureaus have made a quicker recovery from the last recession, according to Limberg.
"Irvine is perfectly located for all the attractions that Orange County has to offer," Limberg said. "We just need to let more people know that."
The City Council plans to review the chamber's marketing proposal in September.