Welcome from the Feather River Tourism Association (FRTA)
We are pleased to share that the effort to form the Feather River Tourism Management District has succeeded. It has been a 6-year journey, taken over $45,000 of donated and loaned funds, and countless volunteer hours to get here, and now the real and exciting work begins.
Resolution to Form the District
On October 13, 2020 the Plumas County Board of Supervisors adopted a Resolution to Form the District. This after being petitioned by over 64% of the lodging businesses in the proposed district estimated to be paying 50% or more of the annual assessments to be levied and conducting several public hearings.
Feather River Tourism Management District (FRTMD)
Though it has taken 6 years and untold hours, the real work now begins. The District assessment begins on January 1, 2021. The Feather River Tourism Association, a 501c6, is the entity designated to manage the District.
The Feather River Tourism Management District will begin to receive funds to operate about May of 2021 but will not see any appreciable funds until October and thereafter. The District Management Plan and By-Laws of the Association can be found on the resources page of FeatherRiverTourism.com. A monthly meeting schedule is being established for initial implementation discussions and planning. These meeting dates and agendas will be posted on the resources page and at other public locations prior to each meeting. All are welcome to attend.
The process to form the Feather River Marketing District (FRTMD) began over 6 years ago. During the first 4 years multiple meetings both large and small were held across the county. And, volunteers talked individually with countless people. In addition, information regarding the district was on the agenda for meetings of the County Board of Supervisors at least 4 times, with an additional 3 for public hearings this year.
The intention was to engage, inform, and solicit support for an organized and sustainable approach to tourism promotion that would benefit our lodging industry and our communities. We met with those who were uninformed or misinformed and ultimately became enthusiastic, and those who were in opposition and remained so. We also sent letters and information via email and snail mail to those whose addresses we were able to obtain, on our own, as we did not have the support of such information from the County. We did our due diligence as best as we could as a dedicated, all volunteer group.
This is Not a Tax
It is important to re-iterate that the assessment that will fund this district is not a tax. The funding for this district is allowed through the Property and Business Improvement District Law of 1994. This law allows for the creation of a benefit assessment district to raise funds within a specific geographic area. The key difference between TMDs and other benefit assessment districts is that these funds raised are returned to the private non-profit corporation governing the district. In our case the Feather River Tourism Association. If it were a tax, the County would keep it and manage it (as they do with TOT). If it were a tax, we, the lodging providers would not be the governing board with ultimate say in how it is spent. If it were a tax, it most likely would not have a 5-year expiration date that this assessment has so the constituency could review its return on investment and decide for themselves if it was worthwhile to continue.
TOT an Unsustainable Argument
Some lodging providers have continued to feel that the County should be using the existing TOT funds to accomplish what this District proposes to do, market, promote and develop. This is a frustrating and recurring argument for many. We would agree with this argument if we had not done our research prior to executing the drive to form the District.
After research, we, like a majority of lodging providers in California, came to the conclusion that the TOT fight could not and would not prevail. Almost every county in California had reduced or even ceased supporting tourism investment due to the ever-increasing cost of executing and maintaining the basic services they are charged with providing. In fact, it is this reality that led to the enactment of the 1994 law allowing the formation of these districts.
We understood that we had to come up with alternate solutions to create the needed funding to support one of the most important, in fact, top 10 industries in our state, let alone our County. In Plumas County we can comfortably say that tourism is one of our top 3 industries, second only in employment to the government itself. TOT funds would never be an answer to the need.
ROI and Effects on Occupancy & Room Rates
In speaking with lodging providers some were concerned about the assessment’s potential effects on their operations. Concerns such as, “We can’t afford to assess our guests on top of existing TOT and still be able to raise our rates”. Or, “With a 2% assessment tacked onto their bill, our guests will stop coming. Our revenues will decline.”
The answers come from research. And, we can say that the only good thing about Plumas County coming to this idea “late in the game” is that we have 10 years’ worth of research with which to answer these concerns. Research has unequivocally shown that:
Return on Investment (ROI) varies between 20% - 60%.
Room stays increase. These regions actually experience significantly increased spending on lodging, food & beverages.
Room prices are able to be increased in proportion to the increased demand.
Additionally, Plumas County’s TOT is 9%. With a 2% assessment, our guests will have 11% added to their base stay rate. 11% puts our District lodging tax and assessment at one of the lowest combined rates across California.
What is at Stake if We Don’t Fund Promotion?
Without effective promotion, research has shown that states and cities cede the economic benefits to competing destinations and fall behind the competition. It is a mistake from which it takes many years to recover. And it is a mistake that is easily avoided when governments and communities take a long view on their economic outlook.
We add to this, that pre-Covid our competition with other mountain communities in Northern CA for tourism dollars was fierce. Post Covid it will be more so, and our neighbors already have the funds to compete!
Leveraging and the Little Guy
We are looking to use these funds to obtain an excellent and just balance for the small provider as well the large by leveraging these dollars to benefit the entire lodging community. Our goal is to increase awareness of our area as a travel destination with focus on our unique culture and values and stewardship of our beautiful recreational area. Our shoulder months have plenty of room for additional visitation even now, as we begin grow this important industry in our area.
We look forward to working with you toward a “better and brighter tomorrow” for our industry and our communities. You will be informed of each meeting of the Board in advance via email. For a list of Directors and their emails, go to featherrivertourism.com/about. Contact us with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, or feel free to email one of our Directors.