SAN ANTONIO – A vote from the City Council Thursday will allow the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau to recreate itself as a public-private nonprofit.
The move allows the CVB more resources to market San Antonio to visitors from around the state and the nation.
“Dallas has exceeded our budget. Houston has exceeded our budget, so they’re putting more money into marketing their destinations,” said Casandra Matej, executive director of the CVB. “We need to be on the forefront of that because travel and tourism is so important to San Antonio.”
The Convention and Visitors Bureaus of Dallas, Houston and Austin are structured as nonprofits that are not entirely under local government control.
Currently, the local CVB is controlled by the city and generates 97 percent of its funding through the Hotel Occupancy Tax.
The restructuring allows the CVB to raise funds from the private sector which could include corporate sponsors, memberships, partnerships and advertising dollars.
Councilman Rey Saldana, who represents the city’s District 4, is anxious to see how the transparency and oversight of the city will change as the CVB transforms.
“In exchange for being more competitive, we have to be less transparent in the process for how we procure advertisements, how we market the city,” he said. “And that gives me a lot of pause as a policy maker who is in charge of tax dollars at the end of the day.”
Matej says the CVB will still report to the City Council on how public funds are used and council members will appoint board members to the CVB board.
The organization will bring the final paperwork detailing the restructuring before the City Council for their approval later this year.
“It is important to the economy and our industry leaders, the CVB, feel that it is important to maintain that and grow this is a good process and a good path to take,” Matej said.
Matej expects the transformation to a public-private entity will boost the budget of the CVB by $10 million within three to five years.
The current annual budget of the CVB is $21 million.