The neat, tony 5.71 square miles of real estate that makes up the City of Beverly Hills (est. population 36,000) is so prosperous and its brand so connected with wealth and exclusivity that one would think it needs not concern itself with tax revenues collected from—ugh—tourists. But, as unwelcome as some locals might find the tourists on tour buses that drive through their neighborhoods while step-on guides point out the homes of the rich and famous or the locales that were featured in this film or that television show, they are not averse to reaping the harvest of tax dollars from the hundreds of millions of dollars that both international and U.S. visitors drop on mostly luxury purchases and hotel rooms in the city.
In fact, the city last week celebrated that fact at the very first Celebrate Tourism Forum for key stakeholders and partners, hosted by the Beverly Hills CVB and held in the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Property and focusing on what the luxury consumer is looking for this year and in the near future. Snippets from the event’s presentations and panel discussions, as reported by TravelDailyNews International, included the following:
—Julie Wagner, CEO of the Beverly Hills CVB shared results from its 2016 visitor economic impact study*, which showed the City received $57 million in tourism-related taxes, representing 26 percent of the City’s General Fund for services for residents such as police and fire.
—Annual visitor volume rose to more than 7.4 million, resulting in over $2.8 billion in economic impact of direct and indirect visitor spend.
—Eliot Finkel, the CVB’s treasurer and former treasurer for the City of Beverly Hills, said that Transient Occupancy Taxes have grown 60 percent over the last decade.”
—Jay Newman, principal and chief operating officer of the Athens Group, explained that hotels are the contributor to TOT revenue, and a high hotel occupancy rate (currently, hotels maintain an average of 80 percent occupancy year-round) resulted in an increased forecasted TOT revenue, up from $24 million in 2009/2010 to $44 million for 2017/2018.
—While Beverly Hills lacks a convention center, Offer Nissenbaum, managing director of The Peninsula Beverly Hills, emphasized the city’s “walkability”and high concentration of luxury hotels within a five-square mile radius, which help attract meetings and incentive business.
—Bill Wiley, director at the CBRE Group, Inc. at Two Rodeo Drive, told attendees that Beverly Hills retailers are also impacted by the hotel growth, resulting in more visitors on the streets and in the shops, and that programming such as BOLD (Beverly Hills Open Later Days, an initiative that featured live music, entertainment, restaurant offers, along with extended store hours during the months of August and mid-November through December) resulted in increased sales and foot traffic. Said Wiley, ““We saw just at Two Rodeo Drive a 60 to 90 percent increase in traffic during the BOLD evenings alone.”
—Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president of market insights at MasterCard, focused on an analysis of spending statistics from 2017. Despite speculation that online shopping is a threat to businesses, research showed that people continue to seek out brick-and-mortar experiences. She also pointed out that, in 2018, people will travel more. When they are traveling, shopping is an important element of their trip, which promises a prosperous future for Beverly Hills.