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In a recent CEO Corner, I discussed the relative lack of investment that Massachusetts has made to sustain the statewide tourism economy – the state’s third biggest economic driver – and how the Chamber is responding to this through efforts to establish a tourism destination marketing district (TDMD) for Cape Cod.

A TDMD is a public-private partnership tool, created by the state legislature as a dedicated, stable source of funding to increase the competitiveness of tourism destinations. By state law, a TDMD can be established by a regional tourism council like the Cape Cod Chamber with approval from a majority of lodging businesses. The funding for a Cape Cod TDMD would be raised through a special assessment on hotel and motel businesses, reflected as an additional 1.5% surcharge on each guest room bill.

While another guest room surcharge can understandably be concerning for some Cape Cod business owners, the potential return on investment of a TDMD is unique and unprecedented for our region. This small 1.5% assessment – just $3.15 on the Cape’s average daily rate of $210 per lodging night – could generate as much as $3 million per year. By state law, these funds must be used to directly benefit Cape Cod businesses and communities.

Over the last several months, the Chamber has held informational sessions and met with hotel and motel business owners across the region to learn more about how TDMD funds could support business and economic development throughout the region. Our team has also begun reaching out to municipal leaders to discuss what a TDMD could mean for our local communities. What we’ve learned is this: a lack of funding for strategic tourism marketing is hurting Cape Cod’s competitiveness as a place to visit and do business. It also makes Cape Cod vulnerable to an increasingly seasonal, boom-bust pattern of tourism, putting increased pressure on town governments and public safety officials. This, in turn, intensifies our region’s challenges related to attainable year-round housing, water quality, transportation, and a variety of other critical issues.

Cape Cod needs a stable source of funding to maintain the economic competitiveness of our region and confront significant challenges like a shortage of workforce housing, and the urgently needed replacement of the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges. Funds raised through a TDMD could support sustainable tourism and business practices, workforce initiatives, and special incentives to strategically maximize business for both year-round and seasonal lodging businesses.

We understand that businesses want to learn more about this important opportunity, and our team is ready to respond. We have created a landing page on our website with Frequently Asked Questions and other resources. The Chamber will also be hosting more informational events to share how a TDMD would benefit our region. A TDMD could truly be a game changer for Cape Cod, and the investment we need in our region’s future.