Elk Grove News

Elk Grove, hotels plan to unite to draw new visitors

Sacramento

Elk Grove wants to draw new visitors to the city by creating a marketing district to promote its hotels and sell the city as a destination for business, sports and leisure travel.

The proposed Elk Grove Tourism Marketing District would draw together the city, its five hotels and a nearby sixth inn to market the region’s second-largest city as a destination for meetings, events and regional tourism. Hotel assessments would raise the $215,000 a year to fund the marketing efforts, with plans for future hotels to join the district. A nonprofit group, Visit Elk Grove, would manage the district and lead its sales and marketing efforts.

A public hearing on the proposal is set for Feb. 11 at Elk Grove City Council Chambers, with a decision on forming the district expected soon afterward. If approved, the district could go into effect as soon as April, the city’s mayor said.

“Hoteliers are motivated to work with the city to promote Elk Grove as a destination,” Mayor Gary Davis said. “We want to work as quickly as we can to promote the things that are happening in Elk Grove.”

Davis said the district offers a “creative way to promote tourism in the city” and called it part of a broader strategy to promote Elk Grove’s sports tourism industry.

The city is already a hub of youth sports, drawing young athletes for soccer, softball and baseball tournaments. Two blueprinted projects are anticipated to draw more events to the city.

Elk Grove last fall approved plans for a nearly $17 million competitive swimming venue for high school, college and club teams on 30 acres at Civic Center Drive near Big Horn Drive. The project will go out for bid this year and could be completed as early as 2016.

The aquatic center is anticipated to attract 36,000 visitors annually, according to city staff projections.

The city also is moving forward with plans to annex 100 acres of farmland for the proposed Elk Grove Multi-Sport Complex south of the city near Highway 99. The project, estimated at as much as $117.7 million, would have room for as many as 16 sports fields and a 9,000-seat stadium that could be expanded to accommodate professional soccer or serve as a venue for concerts or other large events.

Financing plans could come before Elk Grove City Council within the next 60 days, city officials said recently.

Hoteliers on Friday said they were looking forward to the partnership. Many say weekday corporate business travelers, medical visitors and those visiting for sporting events make up the bulk of guests, with still others coming to Elk Grove for family visits and to tour the nearby Lodi wine-growing region.

The five hotel owners in the city of Elk Grove would pay 2 percent of short-term rental revenue to fund the new marketing district. The sixth hotel just beyond city limits, Fairfield Inn & Suites, would pay 1 percent because it already pays 1 percent to Sacramento County for a similar purpose. The hotels can pass on the charge to guests as long as they label it on room bills, according to a district plan.

Placer County leaders last year formed a similar consortium called the Placer Valley Sports Complex and Tourism Marketing District. That partnership is funded by a $4.25-per-room-a-night charge at hotels in Lincoln, Rocklin and Roseville.

The idea for the proposed district comes as more people check into the city’s hotel rooms and as Elk Grove continues its rise from recession and a housing market crash that hit the relatively young city particularly hard.

Revenues from transient occupancy taxes – the “bed tax” collected by hotels from its guests – have risen each of the last four fiscal years, starting in 2010-11, to more than $1.36 million in fiscal year 2013-14, according to city finance officials.

The increased hotel traffic locally also appears to be part of a larger trend.

The nation’s hotels have seen “significant” occupancy increases over the past five years, according to hospitality industry researchers PKF Hospitality Research in projecting “a protracted period of prosperity for the U.S. lodging industry,” through 2018.

Geoff Armstrong, a sales director at Hampton Inn, said the district’s marketing efforts can “create more of a sense of Elk Grove.”

“It’s a popular destination for youth sports. We see a lot of business traffic here. It would be nice to have more people here on a leisure basis,” Armstrong said.

Clint Reed of Geweke Managing Co., which manages Hilton Garden Inn as well as hotels in Lodi and Yuba City, said a district is a “step in the right direction. Elk Grove has a pretty ambitious plan for its future that’s exciting. Hopefully, we can market that.”

Call The Bee’s Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.

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