Ten years ago, an ordinance was written to increase the hotel tax by 2%. One half of the increase was designated exclusively for marketing Columbia’s tourism product. The other 1% was designated exclusively for the enhancement or development of festivals, events and attractions.
Since 2001, more than $2.5m in TDFE funding has been recommended by the CVB Advisory Board and approved by Council. Much of that funding has gone to the city’s oldest, largest and best festivals. Funding from TDFE has greatly enhanced the quality of those events by enabling the organizers to bring in nationally recognized entertainers or exhibits. This has, in turn, drawn more visitors and more attention to the events and to Columbia.
The Advisory Board, in an effort to assure that the quality of these festivals would not be diminished, voted to establish a Signature Series within the Tourism Development Festival and Events Fund.
Signature Series are classified as those festivals & events that:
- Have been funded through the Tourism Development Program for at least 3 years.
- Have shown continued growth in attendance.
- Have a positive impact on the image of Columbia.
- Have held their events during lower occupancy periods.
- Have developed a positive reputation outside Columbia.
- Has attracted press coverage.
- Have maintained a strong organizational structure.
- Have shown excellent stewardship of TDP funds.