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Santa Barbara Council Expected to Approve $1.6 Million in Tourism Promotion Contracts

Old Spanish Days Fiesta, the International Film Festival and the Visitor Center are among the organizations slated to receive funding

The Santa Barbara City Council is slated to dole out more than $1.6 million on Tuesday to organizations that promote the city and greet thousands of visitors each year.

Visit Santa Barbara is set to receive the most money at $1.38 million for one year, beginning July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015.

Old Spanish Days Fiesta, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and the Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region’s Visitor Center are also on the list of annual contracts the Santa Barbara Council will consider at Tuesday’s meeting.

All contracts are on the consent agenda and most likely will be approved.

The city allots approximately $2.6 million annually for events, festivals, arts and promotional community organizations, according to city spokeswoman Nina Johnson.

Johnson said the tourism and cultural arts community has a “significant” economic impact on Santa Barbara, but she didn’t provide any solid figures.

Nonprofit arts and culture generate $124 million in total economic activity throughout the county, according to the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission.

Visit Santa Barbara touts the city as a tourism destination, using funds for administrative expenses like salaries, benefits, advertising, consumer and trade information services, public relations and sales, according to the proposed contract.

A joint Visit SB and tourism business improvement district program contributed to an increase of approximately $45 million in lodging revenue between 2010 and 2013, the organization’s strategic plan states.

The film festival is the lone event to receive more funds than last year — $25,000 more — to celebrate the event’s 30th anniversary in 2015, with $76,000 in city funding.

Because of a 13 percent boost in attendance last year, the festival will add an extra day of programming, running from Jan. 27 to Feb. 7, 2015.

Old Spanish Days Fiesta will see $98,000 from the city to organize, promote and sponsor the 90th annual festival honoring community roots, scheduled to run July 30 through Aug. 3.

Year-round administrative expenses are included, as well as event janitorial services, portable toilets at the two “mercados” and power-washing of the De la Guerra Mercado area. Funds could partially cover promotional costs for posters and brochures, too.

The chamber’s Visitor Information Center at the corner of Cabrillo Boulevard and Garden Street would get $56,000 to support year-round expenses from Aug. 1 through June 30, 2015.

According to the contract, the allotment would cover salary and benefit expenses and office services and supplies at the visible location that assists those looking for maps, hotel reservations, points of interest and more.

The center is open seven days a week for 55 total hours between February and October, with 50 hours per week during the off-tourism season November through January.

The Santa Barbara City Council is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Santa Barbara City Hall, 735 Anacapa St. 

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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