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Jun 16, 2010 8:42 PM by Monica Quintero

Visitors will soon have to pay more for hotel rooms

Tourists will soon have to pay more to stay the night in the Santa Ynez Valley. What's called the tourism improvement district assessment will be added to their bills. Visitors will pay an extra $2 per room, per night. The Santa Ynez Valley Hotel Association is estimating it could generate up to $600,000 a year that would be spent on promoting tourism.

Bill Phelps, The Santa Ynez Valley Hotel Association President, said, "It's always been Solvang, Buellton, Los Olivos, everybody kind of worried about my market. " Phelps says it's the first time all 34 hotels in the area have worked together and it took years to make it happen.
He said, "Our goal is to give people reasons to come here." But tourists don't seem to be thrilled with the added cost. Chris Reese, tourist, said, "It makes no sense to add an increase to get more people, that's the bottom line."

Phelps believes this will have a trickling effect and that it will bring more visitors, which means more money for the community. He said, "There are people eating in the restaurants, people buying in the stores." Meanwhile, Mary Harris with the Santa Ynez Valley Visitors Association also believes this will ultimately boost tourism. Harris said, "Monterey County projects a very, very beautiful image of Monterey. We want to make sure people know everything there is to do in the Santa Ynez Valley. The additional money obviously, will help us compete."

The goal is to compete especially during the hotel's off peak times, such as getting people to stay the night during the week. The added cost takes effect July 1,2010. The Chumash Casino Resort is not required to do add the assessment because it's a tribal nation, but the association is in talks with them to see if they will voluntarily participate

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