By Katrina Van Duzee/Garden Grove Journal
On Dec. 1 hotels in Garden Grove will add an assessment to their visitor’s bill, implementing the Garden Grove Tourism Improvement District recently approved by the city council.
With its adoption some residents are asking what this will mean for Garden Grove.
The Garden Grove City Council backs the formation of the TID, hotel representatives are ecstatic and the city of Anaheim is opening its arms to welcome Garden Grove into their network, yet some residents have not been convinced this union is what’s best for the city.
“Garden Grove doesn’t have a large industrial or employment base. One of our biggest economic opportunities is our hotels and they contribute a significant amount to the general fund,” Garden Grove City Manager, Matthew Fertal said.
“The financial success of Garden Grove will probably depend on the success of our hotels and their ability to attract guests.”
The objective of the TID is to generate funds for marketing Garden Grove as part of the Anaheim resort complex and specific hotel improvements. The ultimate goal is to increase foot traffic and bring more business to Garden Grove and Anaheim, Charles Ahlers, president of the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau said.
Although the VCB has no plan to distinguish between the two cities in their marketing campaign, Ahlers said such a distinction would not benefit Garden Grove.
“People want to pick this apart, but it is not about identity or taking from the city of Garden Grove,” Ahlers said. “Garden Grove will get more business, see an increase in demand and the hotel industry is removing itself from relying on government funding. This is a good story of an industry funding itself.”
Critics of the TID say the program does not spread the wealth evenly across Garden Grove and forces the city to stand in the shadow of Anaheim, instead of creating its own identity.
“Are all of our trees are going be like the ones at Disneyland too, so people don’t realize they have left Anaheim and are in a different city?” Garden Grove resident Peggy Bergin said. “Are we going to lose our identity more then we want to already?”
The Tourism District will separate Garden Grove into two zones adding a tax of 2.5 percent per night to hotels in tier one, North of Lampson Avenue and .05 percent per night for hotels in tier two, south of Lampson Avenue. There are currently no hotels in tier two.
The reason for a higher tax in Tier I is because the hotels will be located closer to Disneyland, Fertal said. It is estimated the assessment will generate $2 million annually with 80 percent of the funds allocated for marketing efforts and the remaining 20 percent for improvements benefiting Garden Grove’s hospitality industry.
The advisory board for the Garden Grove Tourism Improvement District will evaluate and decide how the beautification funds are distributed. It is likely that the funds will be used to make it appear “you didn’t leave Disneyland” as visitor’s drive from Anaheim to Garden Grove, Ahler’s said.
“Garden Grove has always been outside the resort area and now we are going to be included. It should be extremely beneficial and the whole community should see growth,” General Manager of the Hilton Garden Inn on Harbor Boulevard, Keith Moses said.
How the collective marketing funds are going to be spent has not yet been decided, but Ahlers said the VCB plans to spend about $100,000 more in advertising and increase the amount of cable TV, print and new media ads. They also plan to add marketing and sales staff to the bureau and cooperative programs.
The formation of the TID in Anaheim benefits the city because it frees up $6 million a year in governments funds that previously were dedicated to their hospitality industry. The funds generated through the TID’s assessment will allow hotels to generate their own money and forward the cities money towards revitalizing the Anaheim Convention Center.
The convention center is the largest in California and within 90 miles of 20 million people, Ahlers said. Anaheim needs more space to accommodate this huge market and to prevent losing business, so the plan is to add 250,000 square feet of exhibit and meeting space.
Several other cities including Los Angeles, San Diego and Irvine have adopted TID’s in order to generate funds to promote their hospitality industry, according to Ahlers.
“We thrive on Disneyland and the convention center; it is what we live off of. People outside of Orange County know Anaheim, but Garden Grove is less recognizable, so it makes sense to be included in their resort complex,” Moses said.
For more information contact the Anaheim/ Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau at (714) 765-8888.