Santa Barbara sales and transient occupancy taxes have posted significant gains so far this year, but they still haven’t reached pre-recession levels, according to data released Monday.
The city received $4.38 million in sales tax during the first quarter, a 10.8 percent increase compared with the same quarter last year.
Sales tax is the city’s second-largest General Fund revenue, and it collected more than $14.1 million this year with 9.6 percent growth year-to-date. Sales tax is expected to end the year at around $19 million, which is still less than 2006.
Transient occupancy tax increased 6.9 percent in May compared with last year, as the city generated $1.17 million. So far this year, the city grossed $12.25 million in TOT, which is 9.4 percent more than the same period last year. The city expects $13.6 million in TOT by the end of the year.
The Goleta, Solvang and Carpinteria city councils voted to place a proposed TOT increase from 10 to 12 percent on the November ballot. The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will make a similar vote Tuesday to match Santa Barbara’s 12 percent TOT.
The cities of Carpinteria, Goleta and Santa Barbara also formed the South Coast Tourism Business Improvement District, or TBID, at the beginning of last year. The regional body placed a small fee on rented rooms that went to the Santa Barbara Convention & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission to market the area. The TBID began its marketing efforts in July, and so far it has raised $1.48 million.
Kathy Janega-Dykes of the SBCVB & FC said it has allowed Santa Barbara to target more international and domestic customers and increase its exposure.
“We’re a community with increasing confidence, and a lot of it is due to the recovery we’re seeing in the tourism industry,” she said at the annual tourism luncheon. “Statistics show increases in TOT, impressive increases in RevPAR and hotel occupancy. Hotel experts are signaling there is a marketing opportunity for destinations and other travel suppliers to be proactive and reach out to travelers.”