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July 29, 2013

San Diego Tourism Authority to Lose 40 Percent of Personnel

As San Diego's tourism funding dries up, 31 employees of the city's Tourism Authority will be laid off as of Tuesday. With only 79 people in the Authority, the cutbacks mean a 40 percent drop in personnel. 

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, top-level managers and those in administrative, sales and marketing positions will be out of a job this week, including the agency's recently hired vice president of communications, Darren Pudgil, who was former Mayor Jerry Sanders' press secretary.

This announcement follows reports that the agency's primary source of funding for the current fiscal year will be approximately 15 percent of what it was last year, as most of the marketing money the city currently collects from a 2 percent hotel room surcharge cannot be released due to pending litigation challenging the levy.

eTurboNews notes that in May, the hotelier-run San Diego Tourism Marketing District, San Diego Tourism Authority and the city itself struck an agreement to release revenue collected from the surcharge on the condition that hoteliers making up the TMD sign waivers and indemnification agreements that would protect the city's general fund if the assessment is overturned by a judge. 

So far, only 34 of the more than 200 waivers have been received, meaning only a portion of the revenue produced by the assessment will be released - approximately $3 million, down from an expected $21 million. Some of the city's largest hotel owners, including the Manchester Grand Hyatt, Hilton San Diego Bayfront and the Marriott Marquis & Marina, have not yet signed the waivers, out of concern that they would be bound to disclose such potential liability risks to their shareholders.

Last month, the Tourism Authority threatened to close for good, but a last-minute agreement with beleagured mayor Bob Filner saved the day. No word yet if the 31 employees will get such a reprive again, but the city can hope.


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About the Author: Jena Tesse Fox

Jena Tesse Fox





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