Memphis Tourism Improvement District

The Challenge

A cultural, musical, and art destination best known as the Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Memphis has it all. With more than 60 tourist attractions including Graceland, Beale Street, and the Memphis Pyramid, plus restaurants, theatres, and art museums, the City is a superb destination for diverse visitors. The Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau takes advantage of these iconic attractions to market the City to visitors around the world.

In addition to leisure attractions, the Memphis Cook Convention Center attracts over 500,000 visitors annually to conventions, tradeshows, and performing arts. But despite all Memphis has to offer, the Convention Center was last renovated in 2003, and in need of additional renovation projects. The convention center was doing well, but it could do better. Unfortunately, the money to update the convention center just wasn’t there.

The Innovation

To remain competitive and fund improvements to the Convention Center, the Bureau, hoteliers, and the City worked together to form the first tourism improvement district in Tennessee. The Bureau and hoteliers were able to leverage their commitment and worked with the City to simultaneously dedicate new bed tax funds for Convention Center improvements. Combining the TID and Convention Center efforts allowed the Bureau to leverage the hotels’ investment in marketing for additional bed tax funding dedicated to the Convention Center. Both efforts were secured without the need for a state law, by using the City’s home rule power (that is, it’s ability to make local laws).

The Results

The Memphis TID began January 1, 2016, assessing $2.00 per occupied room per night to fund destination marketing programs. The district was initially estimated to raise $3.8 million per year. After just one quarter of collections, it became clear that the district would be even more successful than expected. This has resulted in a revised estimate of $5.3 million in annual TID funding—accounting for over 40% of the Bureau’s annual budget! Plus, the hotels’ investment via the TID has been leveraged into additional funding from the County. Prior to forming the TID, the Bureau projected an annual budget of $9.4 million in 2017 – the TID and new County funding have increased the projected 2017 budget to $14.7 million. And this is only the beginning for the Memphis TID!

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