Will The Dallas Convention And Visitors Bureau Finally Give Cultural Tourism Its Due?

The Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau is looking to capitalize on new Texas legislation that allows for the adoption of non-geographic Public Improvement Districts, or PIDs, which would levee a two percent sales tax on hotels in Dallas. And of the estimated $10 million that could be generated by a new Tourism PID, DCVB head Phillip Jones says upwards of $3 million will be earmarked towards promoting cultural tourism.

That news, which came via a city of Dallas Economic Development Committee briefing Monday, marks a key victory for arts advocates who have been pushing for hotel sales tax revenue for years. It is a deal that was carefully brokered by the Arts District’sVeletta Lill and Jones.

The presentation, entitled “Helping Make Dallas a Top 5 Destination,” proposes using 50 percent of the funds created by the new PID to create incentives for bringing in additional conventions, meetings, and visitors. Marketing will receive 45 percent of the funds, and the $3 million of that earmarked for arts and culture will go towards hiring a cultural tourism manager within 60 days of adoption of the new Tourism PID. In addition, the agreement, signed by Lill and Jones, stipulates that representatives from the “cultural tourism community” will participate in developing the messaging for the cultural advertising campaign. The agreement also requests that the DCVB creates a sub-agency within their marketing department to focus on cultural tourism.

As Jerome Weeks writes on Art and Seek, the PID isn’t exactly the solution some arts advocates had been hoping for, namely a way to use hotel generated revenues to actually fund arts programs and infrastructure (‘to keep the lights on and the bathrooms functioning,” as he puts it). And the effectiveness of the cultural marketing efforts will also be contingent on who exactly is considered part of the “cultural tourism community.” After all, as we learned with the controversy last week over the Arboretum’s desired parking expansion into White Rock Lake, not all arts and culture advocates have their heads screwed on straight.

But the agreement does show that the DCVB understands the value in supporting the investments Dallas has made over decades in developing itself as a cultural attraction. And improved cultural marketing could help give Dallas the right kind of re-brand.