City Councilor Lydia Edward’s push to create the first ever tourism marketing district for Boston and Cambridge passed the City Council unanimously last week.
The effort, spearheaded by Edwards and cosponsored by Councilor Frank Baker, will permit hotels in Boston and Cambridge to assess members of the district a fee that will be directly reinvested back into tourism, similar to a business improvement district.
The estimated $10 million investment in the first year of the newly created district will promote tourism in Boston and Cambridge, help beautify and maintain green and open spaces in the two cities, increase supplier diversity, and create a reserve fund to help the tourism industry weather economic downturns.
“Boston and Cambridge are the first cities to create a Tourism Marketing District under this new state law,” said Edwards. “I’m honored to have cosponsored its creation with Councilor Frank Baker. This tourism district will help promote our neighborhood’s restaurants, museums and restaurants to visitors.”
Ahead of the vote last week the new district was approved by Cambridge and only required Boston City Council approval for creation.
The Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau partnered with Edwards to create the distinct and the plan sets forth the services, programs, budget, assessment structure, criteria for businesses, management, and committee for the area.
Edwards said the new district will be a crucial part of a strong economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The tourism industry and its employees have been some of the hardest hit during this pandemic. The tourism industry disproportionately employs women and people of color at much higher rates than other industries, and is often a stepping stone for meaningful wages and union membership.
The assessed fees of members of the district is projected to create up to $10.5 million annually.
Councilor Baker, Chair of the Committee on Arts, Culture, Tourism and Special Events said It was long past due to start spending some money on promoting the cities of Boston and Cambridge.
“It’s about the time that we started celebrating what we are and how much we can do and help the industry that was absolutely killed this year,” said Baker. “Last year hotels pre-pandemic were around 90% (capacity) and last year they were only around 20%. We need to promote and support this industry and I’m proud to stand here and say that we’re going to do that with this petition.”