City Hall

Would New Hotel Tax Save Dallas From Making More Terrible Promotional Videos?

Dallas has a knack for self-regard. Self-promotion? Not so much. The city's efforts at branding itself ("Live Large. Think Big.") are, well, embarrassing. We've had nothing with the catchiness, not to mention production values, of Las Vegas' "What happens here, stays here."

But Vegas has a slush fund of $95.5 million for selling itself, while Dallas spends a paltry $5.4 million per year, which is why, the Dallas Convention and Visitors and the Hotel Association of North Texas argue, the city needs about $10 million more.

The money would come through the formation of a Tourism Public Improvement District (basically a self-taxing nonprofit that reports to the city) that will be funded by a two-percent tax on hotel rooms in the city.

In a memo to the City Council, Ray Hammer, VP of the hotel group, outlined how the PID will work.

Roughly half of the $10 million will be used as incentive funding to lure more citywide conventions to Dallas. That means, from what I can glean from Hammer's note, that you pay convention organizers with the expectation that you will get it back and more through hotel stays of convention goers. When funding proposals, the PID will pay a maximum of $1 in incentives to $10 in guest room revenue.

Another chunk of funding, about $3 million, will fund a marketing campaign of cable spots, social media, targeted email blasts, and "non-conventional OOH." (What, you might ask, is OOH? I have know idea and have not yet heard back from Hammer.)

The final portion will go to fund tourism-boosting projects pitched by local organizations.

The proposal is obviously very good for hotels, which, according to Hammer's estimate, will see an additional $500 million in annual revenue. But, Hammer argues, it will also put an additional $35 million in the city's coffers and produce $500 million in additional consumer spending.

The city of Dallas will even get $700,000 per year, since its hotel occupancy tax will apply on the new 2-percent tax -- a tax on a tax.

Even if those estimates are on the high end, this seems like a pretty painless move. The extra surcharge isn't going to drive away any travelers and besides, I won't have to pay it because I live here. And if it will stop another one of those videos from coming into existence, I'm all for it.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson