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Visit Tuolumne County Holds Inaugural Tourism Marketing District Workshop

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Sonora, CA– Visit Tuolumne County (VTC) recently conducted its inaugural Tourism Marketing District Workshop at the Best Western Plus Sonora Oaks Hotel & Conference Center. The primary objective of this workshop was to provide information and education to the community, stakeholders, lodging property owners, and managers, as well as officials from Tuolumne County and Sonora, regarding the establishment and purpose of a Tourism Marketing District.

VTC’s existing budget relies on a declining tiered percentage of the transient occupancy tax (TOT). Under the current agreement with Tuolumne County, VTC is mandated to identify an alternative sustainable funding source by May 2026. A commonly adopted method for securing funding by Destination Marketing Organizations beyond TOT is through the creation of a Tourism Marketing District, often referred to as a TMD or Business Improvement District. In a TMD, guests are assessed an additional fee on their lodging bills in addition to TOT.

To facilitate the establishment of a TMD, VTC is collaborating with Civitas. VTC is presently in the second phase of TMD creation, which involves hosting a series of meetings and actively engaging lodging properties to educate them about the concept of a TMD and its associated advantages. The initial phase involved the formation of a steering committee responsible for developing a draft service plan and guiding the feasibility study.

Commenting on the initiative, VTC’s CEO & President, Lisa Mayo, stated, “Implementing a TMD in Tuolumne County will provide VTC with a stable source of funding, enabling us to enhance our existing successful marketing plans and expand marketing programs, which have demonstrated a substantial positive impact on the visitor economy in our region.” VTC exemplified the potential extension of marketing funds, including expansion into international markets. Presently, VTC operates in three international markets: the United Kingdom and Ireland, Canada, and Mexico. Mayo emphasized the significance of international visitors who tend to prolong their stays and contribute more to the local economy.

The workshop attracted nearly forty attendees, comprising a diverse mix of lodging property owners and managers, recreational outfitters, community members, and various stakeholders. Kelly Rankin, the Civitas Project Manager, was invited by Mayo to explain the purpose and process of a TMD. Fred Brown, Vice-President of Operations for the Hansji Corporation and Visit Anaheim Board Member, shared his firsthand insights into the benefits experienced by the lodging industry and Visit Anaheim following the establishment of a TMD in 2010 with Civitas. The program concluded with a question-and-answer session. The official website for VTC can be found here.