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East Harbor Island in San Diego Bay. Photo credit: Screen shot,

The San Diego Tourism Marketing District has allocated $52.5 million for programs and events over the next 12 months that draw tourists to the region.

The allocation for the 2024 fiscal year, which began July 1, is the largest in the organization’s 15-year history, surpassing the $48 million available in 2020.

This year’s mark results from what officials called “a very strong tourism rebound” in San Diego over the past year.

“The industry’s recovery last year exceeded expectations, but growth is beginning to level off and these funds will be vital to keep San Diego among the top destinations in its market,” said board chair Richard Bartell, chairman and president of Bartell Hotels.

The district is self-funded through a small assessment on room nights in city hotels with 70 rooms or more. The proceeds are designated for tourism marketing to help increase overnight hotel stays.

Those visitors generate transient occupancy tax, or TOT, which helps fund city services, as tourism supports thousands of direct jobs while attracting billions in visitor spending to the region.

In its 2022 financial year, the district awarded $26.6 million in marketing grants that delivered an estimated return on investment of $31 in hotel room night revenue from every $1 of grant funding invested.

The 2024 grants include:

  • San Diego Tourism Authority – The city’s destination marketing organization continues to be SDTMD’s primary recipient of funding and will receive more than $50 million for strategic marketing programs.
  • Sports San Diego – Now in its second year of operation, Sports San Diego markets San Diego to athletic tournaments and competitions, which have become a big driver of local travel. It is receiving over $1.5 million to promote the San Diego Holiday Bowl, the California State Games and the Rady Children’s Invitational Men’s College Basketball Tournament by the Beach and to market San Diego to attract future events.
  • Other events – $501,000 will support several established tourism generating events and programs that have received funding previously and have yielded a strong return. Returning events include the U.S. Police & Fire Championships, San Diego Crew Classic, San Diego Open, USTA’s Billie Jean King Girl’s 16 & 18 National Championships and League National Championships and San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival. 

The district targets events scheduled for traditionally slower travel periods for its funding to sustain steady year-round tourism.

The district projects that its grants will drive approximately 5.7 million room nights, generating over $1.1 billion in revenue in addition to $115 million in TOT for the city. 

The district will open a new call for applications in October.