Hotels in Birmingham and Solihull are believed to be among the first in the country to be involved in a private sector initiative to market their local area.
Plans are currently being drawn up by representatives of the area's tourist economy and Marketing Birmingham to propose a new means of deciding how to promote and fund the area's visitor offer through the creation of a tourism business improvement district (TBID).
Birmingham and Solihull attracted a record 39 million visitors in 2012, boosting the local economy by £5.9b. However, there is a belief that there is considerable potential for further growth with significant investment in transport connections and leisure facilities expected in the coming years.
Promotion of the area has previously been provided by Marketing Birmingham, which is mainly funded by Birmingham City Council and the European Regional Development Fund. However, with constraints on public purse strings, there is a need to pursue alternative funding.
Michael Mason, general manager of the Crowne Plaza Birmingham City Centre hotel and chairman of the Midlands Association of Restaurants, Caterers, Hotels & Entertainment (MARCHE) said that a TBID would provide "a real opportunity" for local businesses to take a bigger role in shaping the future of the sector.
"Greater Birmingham has always been an innovator and this current tough environment gives us an opportunity to once again demonstrate leadership to the UK's tourism sector and create our own innovative model for delivering success."
If it should go-ahead, the TBID would see hotels and other tourist businesses pay a levy to an approved delivery body to promote and develop the local area, with the aim of increasing the number of overnight guests in local hotels, raising the value of daily room rates and boosting the value of the visitor economy overall. It would also raise awareness of the area as a tourist destination in key markets.
Paul Kehoe, chief executive of Birmingham Airport and chair of Marketing Birmingham, added: "Our tourism sector has seen great successes but we know that our hotel occupancy, room rates and utilisation continue to provide challenges for local hoteliers.
"A tourism BID would not only put the industry in the driving seat in efforts to sustain and boost the area's offer, but would provide a more sustainable funding model for its future promotion."
Marketing Birmingham is currently consulting with hoteliers on the proposed tourism BID, with a ballot on the proposals expected to take place in summer 2014. All hotels and serviced accommodation providers with 30 or more bedrooms in the Birmingham City Council and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council areas will be eligible to vote. A majority vote will be required for the TBID to go ahead.