Some tourists visiting San Antonio will soon see an extra charge on their hotel bills. This comes after a 10-1 city council vote approving the Tourist Public Improvement District (TPID), which will tack an extra 1.25% onto bills from hotels with more than 100 rooms.
The fee will go into effect on January 1, 2019. Tourists who are staying in large hotels downtown this month, like Kelly Spivey, have narrowly avoided paying the extra charge. Spivey and her friends looked at price and location when booking rooms at The Crockett Hotel.
"It's fun - I love the Riverwalk, and all the restaurants, and the culture," she said.
In the new year, a stay here will benefit the city just as much as it does Kelly and her friends. The funds collected from TPID will go toward bringing San Antonio even more visitors.
"It will be clearly marked on their bill. It'll say tourism public improvement fee and that dollar amount," explained Bill Brendel, general manager at The Crockett Hotel. "Visit San Antonio's advertising and marketing budget has been stagnant for 10 years. The same dollar amounts they had available to spend in 2008 are the dollars they have to spend today."
Spivey understands the importance of marketing a city, but questions where the resources should come from.
"I think it's important to market your work, but does that need to fall on the backs of the tourists? I'm not sure," she said.
The words "extra fee" can sound daunting, but Brendel says visitors shouldn't notice a huge difference. Per current room rates, tourists will pay roughly an extra dollar or two a night.
The small percentage adds up big time.
"It should bring more than 80 million dollars to be used in the next eight years to market in San Antonio," explained Brendel. "That's something that changes the game for us."
It's also a game-changer for the 130,000 people in San Antonio's hospitality industry.
"That's more money being spent here. That's more tax money for the city, that's employing more people in other businesses," said Brendel.
It should only take a few months to see the impact of the new fee. TPID will be in effect for eight years before it will be evaluated for renewal or elimination.
Despite the added cost, tourists tell us they'll be back.
"I would love to bring my family - my husband and my grandkids," said Spivey. "I think it's a great town."