For A Tourism Plan, Uniquely Austin
Here's the deal, Austin
Right now, the city we love faces a choice. Will we demand that our City fund what we love about Austin and are losing? Or will we stand by and let our City Council commit over $2 Billion of our hotel tax dollars to expanding the failing Convention Center?
That’s $2 Billion over the next 25-plus years—$1.37 billion in estimated public expenses according to UT’s study on the expansion, plus interest, land, construction, and operating costs—that should go to what visitors and residents both love most about Austin: live music, the arts, unique Austin businesses, parks, pools. Our culture. Our heritage. Our nature. Our soul. What we are losing through neglect and rising costs of living in Austin.
Here are the key facts of the matter: People don’t come to Austin for the Convention Center. The Convention Center brings less than 4% of our hotel visitors, but consumes more than 72% of our hotel tax dollars. That’s over $70 million this year alone (all data from the Visit Austin Marketing Plan).
That’s $70 million per year (and growing) that could and should be supporting what we love about Austin. Yes, let’s fix up the Convention Center: it could use upgrades. But expanding it in the face of a national glut of Convention Center space with limited demand and years of operating losses is a loser’s bet.
What we do, together, today through Election Day this November 5th, will decide if we fund those people, places, and activities that make Austin special. Please join Austin Independent Business Alliance, Save Our Springs Alliance, and people across Austin by supporting our citizen petition ordinance!
“Austin’s tourism industry has been growing so quickly not because of the Convention Center, but because the rest of the world has discovered that Austin is a great place to be, because of our live music, because of our beautiful natural setting, because of our arts scene. We are redistributing wealth from those things that people actually come to Austin to do and see to the convention industry, which, as we’ve seen, generates a tiny portion of overall tourism business.”
— John Riedie
Austin Tourism Commissioner
Join the Movement/Sign the petition
We would like to send you, very occasionally, updates on our efforts and how you can be involved in our campaigns! There will be many ways to help out and many events to come out over the year!
We are a grassroots organized effort that depends on your support to fight for Austin. Please consider donating to ensure we can win against the downtown hotel interests.
WHAT OUR PETITION
WOULD GIVE AUSTIN
A Cap on Convention Center Expenditures
Our petition would limit the Convention Center to 34% of our Public Tourism budget generated by our hotel tax. The other two-thirds would support what we love all around Austin —rather than lock up most of our hotel tax dollars downtown.
A Public Vote on Expansions
Our petition would require a vote of the public for any major expansion of the convention center. We got to vote on the $110 million expansion in 1998. We should have a right to vote for a $1.2 billion expansion today.
Allocate 2/3rds of HOT tourism dollars to arts, cultural,and environmental tourism.*
Austin is the Live Music Capital of the world, and yet we only spend small portions of our tourism dollars on music venues, promotion, or events. Austin must make our tourism spending match what both visitors and residents love most about Austin: live music, the arts, uniquely Austin local businesses, parks, and historic preservation.
Promote Our Small Businesses
Just recently we lost Threadgill’s World Headquarters. We lost two theatres on Manor Road. We lost El Gallo and El Azteca, It looks like we may be losing Beerland. We almost lost the Saxon Pub. Meanwhile the convention center is hording hotel taxes that can and should be promoting and helping our uniquely Austin theatres, restaurants, art spaces, and shops.
*Although Chapter 351 of the Texas Tax Code places certain limits on the use of Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue, there are still numerous methods with which the City of Austin can support and enhance the cultural tourism industry, including advertising and conducting solicitations and promotional programs to attract tourists to geographically dispersed areas of Austin (not just Downtown) and investments in multipurpose, performing arts and live music venues, as authorized under Chapter 334, Subchapter H of the Texas Local Government and other applicable laws.
Austin Monitor Radio: Jack Craver interview with Tourism Comissioner John Riedie
KXAN: Critics question cost of expanding the Austin Convention Center
KXAN: Industry critics question the accuracy of attendance numbers
KXAN: Big spending in Austin’s Visitors Bureau raising concerns
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