SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Tourism Authority laid off 40 percent of its employees Wednesday after being faced with financial cutbacks that officials blamed partially on Mayor Bob Filner.
The department gets its funding from the San Diego Tourism Marketing District which has been embroiled in a dispute with Filner.
“Bob Filner didn’t believe that the investment made sense and felt it was a destination that didn’t need to be promoted,” said Joe Terzi, CEO of the Tourism Authority.
The agency, which at one time had a $21 million budget, now must work with $4 million. As a result, 31 employees were laid off, including the entire staff of the San Diego Film Commission, which employs three people. The Film Commission worked to0 attract movies like Top Gun and Anchorman 2 to San Diego.
“We have a strong public relations team leaving us today,” said Terzi.
That agency, he said, reaches out and gets international media coverage for the city. Now, costly television and Internet campaigns will have to be to cut.
“We have sales people in Washington D.C. and Chicago. All those people are leaving today. They sell group meetings to people and talk about bringing their meeting or convention to San Diego,” said Terzi.
The Authority helps generate $8 billion for the local economy, Terzi claimed. That number will decrease now, he said. Less people visiting the city means less money in hotel taxes that go to pay for things like fire, police and street repair, he said.