Brookhaven is set to once again have its own tourism agency.
The 2018 budget sets aside $1 million for the creation of a Convention and Visitors Bureau, which will include a volunteer board of directors and likely a paid administrator, according to Assistant City Manager Steve Chapman. Chapman said he hopes to have a board formed by early next year. The timing for hiring an administrator is not yet known, he said.
Funding for the city’s own CVB comes from the new revenue stream created this year by the increase in hotel-motel taxes to 8 percent from 5 percent that was initiated to fund the Peachtree Creek Greenway. The hotel-motel tax increase went into effect this month and collection of the additional funding begins Nov. 15, Chapman said.
The city once had its own tourism department with one employee, but Chapman said from what he could tell after reviewing documents, turmoil in the city led to hotel motel tax funds not being spent in the allotted one-year cycle. That led the city to decide to hand over marketing and promotional duties to Discover DeKalb, the marketing and tourism agency for DeKalb County.
He said the way the new CVB will be created will depend on what he finds in the city’s files on the past tourism department. He also plans to speak to representatives from Roswell and Dunwoody, which have their own CVBs, for input, he said.
State law requires the additional 3 percent be divided and the city has set aside 1.5 percent to use on the “creation and expansion” of a project to drive tourism to the city and region — in this case the Greenway — and the other 1.5 percent going toward the promotion and advertising of the Greenway. That other entire 1.5 percent was planned to go to Discover DeKalb.
In addition, of the original 5 percent hotel motel tax, the state requires that 2 percent of that funding is restricted to being spent on tourism, conventions and tradeshows with 3 percent able to be used in the city’s general fund.
The city has also set a sunset clause on the additional 3 percent in hotel motel tax that will expire when the Greenway is completed, according to city officials.
Chapman said after more review of the funding this year, the city decided it wanted to reestablish the CVB it once had when the city was founded.
The CVB was essentially closed, but not officially dissolved, about two years ago and the money collected from the hotel motel tax was handed over to Discover DeKalb for promotion and marketing of such events as the Cherry Blossom Festival.
Chapman aid the city will continue its relationship with Discover DeKalb by paying it $575,000 a year.
“They’re very good,” he said. “We are not saying they are doing a bad job.”
This story has been updated to reflect a clarification of how the entire 8 percent of the hotel motel tax must be distributed according to state law and to note that the 3 percent increase for Brookhaven comes with a sunset clause.