The “T” word, otherwise known as tourism, is not the most popular word for Coronado residents. Discover Coronado’s Executive Director Todd Little dislikes it even more. “It’s a word that no longer fits with our work plan. Today, our primary focus is attracting luxury group meetings to the Coronado resorts, not tourists. That’s the sole reason we changed our name from the Coronado Tourism Improvement District to Discover Coronado.”
After the pandemic brought group meetings to a halt, it remained a significant hindrance in 2021, with group sales falling 76 percent. The Del even shuttered temporarily, for the first time since opening their doors in 1888. Discover Coronado recently shared their 2022 Economic Impact Study with the City Council. Last year was a year of marked recovery, as group travel grew exponentially following the long hiatus, with hotel room nights sold improving by 24 percent in 2022.
Statistics show a promising total economic impact from groups, with $113.5 million in direct spending, for a total impact of $164.1 million, up $51 million from 2021. This also translated to 950 local jobs generated and $8.2 million accrued in state and local taxes. Coronado hosted more than 74,000 group hotel visitors in 2022, a 141 percent increase from 2021, but still 22 percent lower than the banner year in 2018. These visitors spent an average of $401 per day.
Little stresses that group meetings have minimal congestion impact on the city but can pay off big in Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) revenues. Marketing mainly to conventions and group meetings brings visitors who come mostly off season and during weekdays, when local businesses can especially use a boost. Hotel guests pay a TOT that benefits residents, providing the latest emergency vehicles, equipment, community grants, library services, and much more in the general fund. He added, “attracting group meetings to Coronado also supports a strong mix of restaurants and retail businesses. These businesses may not exist without revenue from conventioneers.”
But the next 15 months will once again bring challenges as The Del will be closing 300 rooms in the Victorian wing for renovation. Discover Coronado anticipates that this and the impact of an impending recession could produce up to a 30 percent decrease in TOT revenues for the city.
Discover Coronado recently rolled out a new marketing campaign “Wonder All Around,” emphasizing that around every corner here, there is something to take your breath away. It promotes the charm, walkability, safety, and historic aspects of Coronado. Another big advantage is the close proximity to the airport and bridge connectivity.
“We want people to come and make memories and then tell others. That’s the best marketing we can get,” comments Little.
Discover Coronado sponsors many community events like the Free Summer Shuttle which mitigates congestion, Motorcars on MainStreet, school jog-a-thons, corn hole tournaments, the CHA POW exhibit, and the Flower Show which showcases the small town charm. The banners on Orange Avenue, which are underwritten by Discover Coronado, educate residents and visitors to upcoming activities, recognize historic events, and highlight notable people.
Made up of two districts, the first was established in 2010 as the Coronado Tourism Improvement District, to accelerate the 2008/09 recession recovery, and the second in 2015 and is now named Discover Coronado. The hotels include Hotel del Coronado, Glorietta Bay Inn, Coronado Island Marriott Resort, and Loews Coronado Bay Resort. The total one percent assessment paid by hotel guests always benefits the city, but has been vitally important as a recovery mechanism, during the major Hotel del Coronado renovation and the pandemic.
Each of the assessed resorts have one seat on the non-profit Discover Coronado Board, with three seats held by local organizations that contribute to the vitality of Coronado, and residents are represented by two at-large members as assigned by City Council. Other board members include Chairperson Harold Rapoza, Jr., Hotel del Coronado; Rena Clancy, Chamber of Commerce; Secretary Dave Landon, Coronado Historical Association; Kate Berry, Managing Director, Loews Coronado Bay Resort; Jonathon Litvack, General Manager, Coronado Island Marriott Manager; and Treasurer Claudia Ludlow, General Manager, Glorietta Bay Inn.
Little, who grew up in rural Kentucky, is a proud Coronado advocate, who moved here after meeting his wife, who was born and raised here. Together, they are raising their three kids here, and he shares, “This is truly the American dream for me. The worst day in Coronado is the envy of most other cities. Our work at Discover Coronado has a positive impact on the entire island. We take that responsibility seriously; carefully balancing commerce with community sensibility.”
To learn more about Discover Coronado and the economic impact, visit discovercoronado.com.