• What is a tourism or destination master plan?

    Master plans are comprehensive or far-reaching public sector plans that analyze current situations, prospective scenarios and make recommendations for future improvement. A master plan addresses three important questions: “where are we?” “where do we want to go?” and “how do we get there?” Because tourism is a highly-segmented and diverse industry, a city must create long-term plans to achieve success. This is the first destination master plan in the history of San Diego.

  • What is the San Diego 20-Year Destination Master Plan?

    The San Diego 20-Year Destination Master Plan is an unvarnished, in-depth analysis of the current state of San Diego tourism. More than 40 industry leaders with diverse expertise in tourism, conferences, transportation, marketing, education, government, economics and planning spent the better part of six months meeting, analyzing and developing the foundation that fueled this master plan. The plan identifies how the growth of tourism in San Diego can be dramatically improved, drawing upon best practices and the City’s own intrinsic strengths, deep resources and untapped capabilities.

  • Have other cities created destination or tourism master plans?

    Yes, it is a considered best practice for cities to create a master plan for tourism. Cities nationally and internationally have completed similar plans to realize the benefits of tourism. Examples domestically include Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and New York City.

  • How was the San Diego 20-Year Destination Master Plan funded?

    The San Diego 20-Year Destination Master Plan was funded by the San Diego Tourism Marketing District (SDTMD) in 2014. The SDTMD is leading the efforts to execute the plan which has been trademarked as Experience San Diego Destination 2040. It is a completely volunteer-led initiative with the common goal of activating the destination master plan.

  • What is the San Diego Tourism Marketing District (SDTMD)?

    The San Diego Tourism Marketing District (SDTMD) is a city-wide Tourism Business Improvement District encompassing all areas within the city limits of San Diego. The SDTMD allows lodging businesses within the City of San Diego to organize marketing efforts to increase tourism, which in turn increases hotel night stays. The SDTMD funded the San Diego 20-Year Destination Master Plan.

    Within the SDTMD, lodging businesses with 70 rooms or more are assessed. Those dollars are used to fund programs and services to increase room night stays, creating a true economic engine in the City and the region as a whole.

  • What is the Transient Occupancy Tax?

    The Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) is a tax on visitor hotel nights. It is these funds which produce a revenue stream that are used for infrastructure, street repair, parks, public safety, homeless services and the environment.

    For more information visit https://www.sandiego.gov/treasurer/taxesfees/tot/totfaq.

  • How does tourism enhance the quality of life for San Diegans?

    Tourism is the third largest economic driver in San Diego. In 2016 alone, San Diego had 34.9 million visitors, bringing in $10.4 billion in spending and $17.2 billion in regional impact. Tourism creates employment. There are more than 191,000 tourism-related jobs in San Diego. The City of San Diego also collected $220 Million in TOT from visitors staying in hotels overnight. The TOT allows the City to pay for road repairs, park maintenance, critical infrastructure updates, and enhance public safety and services to address the homeless.

  • Who is on the Experience San Diego Steering Committee?

    The Experience San Diego Steering Committee was comprised of 16 tourism, business, government and civic leaders.

    The committee was created to activate the tenets and best practices for successful destinations as outlined in the final research report and disbanded in July 2018 when strategic oversight of the plan transitioned to the San Diego Tourism Authority.

  • How does Experience San Diego measure success during the next 20 years?

    Experience San Diego has formalized a Declaration for Success to increase TOT to $1.3 billion over the next five years (2018-2022) and $948 million per annum by 2040. At the same time, the steering committee has established primary near-and mid-term goals and milestones to increase visitors’ length of stay:

    1. Brand the City of San Diego
    2. Grow meetings and convention business
    3. Attract more leisure tourism
    4. Bring more international tourism to San Diego through direct flights
  • Why is the San Diego 20-Year Destination Master Plan necessary when San Diego is already a tourist destination?

    San Diego has always been known as a premier tourist destination. At first glance, it may seem as though the City doesn’t need to spend money on marketing itself as a destination. However, San Diego’s glowing tourism numbers are dim compared to some of its more lucrative neighbors. Places like Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other similar destinations are outperforming San Diego in the following areas: visitor spending, TOT growth, meetings and conventions, room night revenues, international visitors. The bottom line is that a transformative approach to tourism growth translates to more TOT, which then has a directly positive impact on the City of San Diego and job growth.


San Diego as a Compelling Destination

New leisure assets, expand meeting and convention tourism


Visitor Spending

Longer stays mean more visitor spending to benefit the local economy


Quality of Life for All San Diegans

Partner with organizations throughout the San Diego community to enhance quality of life