All of the funds collected by the district are placed in an account separate from the general fund and must be used only for tourist-related activities, said city Cultural Arts Manager Sian Poeschl.
Half of the 2% goes to the bureau to promote the town. The funds cover about 92% of the bureau's expenditures. The remaining 8% is funded by members' dues. No funding comes from the city.
The rest of the 2% is divided between arts groups. Thirty percent goes to registered nonprofit or cultural organizations that have been in town for at least five years with professional management and other requirements. Ten percent goes to the Arts Commission for projects approved by the City Council and another 10% is divided among arts organizations, which also must be approved by the council.
The funding allowed the bureau to step up its adverting and public relations efforts in 2010, even though the economy was less than robust, with just a slight uptick in visitor traffic over 2009.
"Take Me There," a new advertising campaign launched late last year, is illustrated by photographs of some of Laguna's hidden gems, such as the view from a bench at Treasure Island Park.
And in February, Laguna was one of just seven locations featured in "Sports Illustrated" iconic swimsuit edition — and the only one in the continental United States.
"It was a top secret for 10 months," Philippsen said. "We had to sign a contract."
The bureau also produces an annual visitors' guide, available at the Visitors Center at 381 Forest Ave., which opened in 2008 after more than 15 years on Broadway.
Executive Director Judith Bijlani, who was hired in 2005, heads the staff, assisted by Marketing Manager Ashley Johnson, Concierge Supervisor Lorna Piercy and part-time concierges Deena Harros and Diane Debilzan.