Marketing district vital to Aspen’s success
October 22, 2009
To some residents, “marketing” is a dirty word, for it connotes the advertising and selling of Aspen.
It’s time to move past that type of cynicism. Because whatever the word “marketing” means, it’s what this town needs to keep pace with other resort towns.
As it stands, Aspen currently has a 0.5 lodging tax dedicated to summer marketing. The tax raises about $600,000 annually, while winter marketing is funded primarily by the Aspen Skiing Co.
This all makes it difficult for Aspen to compete with other ski resorts for the attention of consumers. After all, there’s Vail, which boasts a marketing budget upwards of $2 million. Even Aspen’s friendly neighbor, Snowmass Village, has a marketing budget of nearly $2 million. We’re willing to bet that the Caribbean cruise lines spend even more.
Enter Referendum 5A, which proposes the formation of a marketing district and a 1 percent tax to be charged on lodging accommodations within the district. The revenues would go toward marketing Aspen year-round, and the tax would expire in 2015 unless voters extend it.
If Referendum 5A passes, it would generate up to $1.3 million for marketing next year, according to marketing district advocates.
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It’s important to note that not all Aspen voters can cast a ballot on the 5A question. Rather, only those who live in the district – a number estimated to be between 530 and 700 – would be eligible to vote.
The tax would not stress locals, and instead would be paid by visitors. But this is not a way to gouge our guests. That’s because hotel rates have dropped significantly during the last year, easily offsetting the lodging tax increase. Also worth noting is that dollars generated from the current 0.5 lodging tax, which won by a margin of 80 votes when it passed in a citywide vote in 2000, are expected to drop because of the recession.
Aspen is a resort town, and it needs to act like one – and marketing is critical to its success.
We encourage those within the proposed district to vote YES on Referendum 5A. And don’t forget this is a mail-only election, so look for your ballot in the mail and send it back to the clerk.