Portland Tourism Improvement District

The Challenge

Portland, Oregon is not your average city. Its breathtaking natural scenery reveals itself in acres of public parks, while the significant walkability and plentiful bicycle paths challenges the need for cars. Also known as the “City of Roses”, Portland boasts renowned farm-to-table dining, coffee shops and breweries, and is home to the world’s largest independent bookstore, among countless other attractions.

When Portland was honored as the best performing destination in Resonance Consultancy’s 2016 U.S. Tourism Quality Indexed Rankings, Jeff Miller, President & CEO of Travel Portland, commented, “We believe Portland is one of the top tourism destinations in the world, and it is an honor to see our city receive high rankings across multiple categories in this survey…In addition, the diversity of offerings, ranging from outdoor recreation and family attractions to culinary adventures and cultural experiences translate to the city truly having something to offer every visitor.” With Travel Portland and the hotel community having accomplished so much, this recognition might lend itself to the interpretation that Portland had no room left for improvement. As it turns out, their success inspired further innovation. Travel Portland decided to become proactive about conquering the challenge of stagnation, and forged ahead with additional enterprise.

The Innovation

Portland’s hotel community came together to implement a new funding mechanism to better promote the Portland region as a preferred destination for meetings, conventions, and leisure travel. That funding mechanism is known as the Portland Tourism Improvement District (“PTID”), which persistent efforts of the hotel community led the City Council to pass an ordinance allowing for the District’s debut on June 20, 2012. The PTID enabled an assessment of 2% per night on guest room revenues for hotels and short-term rentals within the city of Portland. Unlike taxes, TID assessments are managed by hoteliers, not by the city. This stable source of funding comprises approximately 42% of Travel Portland’s budget, which drives sales, marketing, and promotional efforts in order to increase hotel occupancy and overall visitor spending.

The Results

Before enacting the PTID, Travel Portland’s budget was approximately $8 million. After the PTID’s first full year of operation, their budget increased to $18 million of which the TID contributed $8 million. Now, the PTID is generating $14.5 million, accounting for nearly half of Travel Portland’s total budget. This money supports Travel Portland’s bold, innovative, and collaborative initiatives, which include market research and statistics, education and support for Portland’s business community, Portland Dining Month, and Destination Management strategic funding grants.

The benefits of the TID have yielded dramatic and measurable results.  From 2013 to 2018, intent to travel to Portland among U.S. adults nearly doubled, according to MMGY Global research.  From 2013 to 2017, Travel Portland’s consumer marketing campaigns generated incremental visitor spending of $418.5 million and incremental state and local taxes of $21.3 million, as shown in studies by Longwoods International.  Travel spending in the state was $12.3 billion in 2018 — a 4.2% increase from 2017, according to Oregon Tourism Commission’s economic impact report. With the expansion of the TID in 2018, Travel Portland and the Portland region are richly funded to elevate their success as an irresistible travel destination for years to come.

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