SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Every travel- and tourism-related company in California will be mailed forms in March to determine whether they will contribute to a proposed public-private partnership that expects to raise $7.5 million a year for California tourism promotion.

An estimated 300,000 businesses -- including travel agencies, tour operators, hotels and motels, car rental firms, local sightseeing companies, restaurants and attractions -- will receive the forms over a period of several weeks, starting March 3, said John Poimiroo, director of the California Division of Tourism.

The forms, which will be mailed by the state tax collection agency, will include a toll-free information number.

"We expect thousands of calls," Poimiroo said at the California Conference on Tourism.

The forms are a necessary step in determining who will vote on the referendum, set for June and July, of the state's travel and tourism industry.

Those voting will either give the go-ahead to the proposed California Travel and Tourism Commission or kill it.

Similar in concept to private- sector commissions set up by the beef, milk and cheese industries, the commission would assess qualifying travel and tourism companies $450 per each $1 million in sales per year for a four-year period.

The private industry's California Travel Industry Association (CalTIA) long has fought for more tourism promotion funding to compete more effectively with Florida and Nevada, which spend millions of dollars more in advertising and are drawing visitors away from California.

The forms will determine what percentage of a firm's revenue is from travel and tourism to and within California.

Travel and tourism revenue is defined as those funds derived from people traveling 50 or more miles from home, other than for commuting.

CalTIA representatives said much care was taken to ensure that only those companies that would benefit from California tourism promotion would be assessed.

Travel agencies and tour wholesalers are exempt if less than 20% of their gross revenue is derived from California travel.

An agency, for example, that specializes in Disneyland and San Diego and has more than 20% of its business income to those and other California destinations would fall into the assessment pool, said Poimiroo.

However, most California agencies and tour wholesalers are not expected to participate, because a high percentage of their business is out-of-state travel, he said.

For businesses other than agencies and wholesalers, exemptions are available if less than 8% of their gross revenue is from travel and tourism.

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