Hotel tax would fund marketing

A new study shows that a majority of hotels in the Boundary support a hotel tax.

CINDY ALBLAS

A new study shows that a majority of hotels in the Boundary support a hotel tax with the money raised going into marketing for those hotels.

If the plan goes through and is approved by the provincial government, local hotels would be charging each visitor two per cent extra on their bill.

The hotel tax was one of the main topics brought up at a recent meeting between shareholders Tuesday evening at the Community Futures building in Grand Forks.

The meeting was hosted by the Christina Gateway Community Development Association (CDA) but no official organization has been formed yet for what would be a destination tourism group for the Boundary.

“We received money from SIBAC (Southern Interior Beetle Action Coalition) and that’s how Christina Gateway was able to contract me to go through the Boundary and do a tourism survey,” said Cindy Alblas, project coordinator for Christina Gateway CDA.

Albas said the survey looked at what the main opportunities in the region are as well as the main challenges.

“We also talked about ways we could improve our region and one of the ways is by choosing to collect the municipal regional district tax which is an up to two per cent tax that hotel accommodators with more than four or more rooms can charge,” she said. “This money would go to a destination market organization (DMO) that would be formed in our region.”

Alblas said the money raised from the tax is expected to be about $60,000 and is required to go only to the direct marketing of our region.

In order to charge the municipal regional district “hotel room” tax (MRDT), the organization needs 51 per cent support from all accommodators in the region as well 51 per cent support from all hotel rooms in the region.

Alblas said at this point they are at 68 per cent of accommodators and 72.5 per cent of rooms which are in support of implementing this tax in our region. The tax would include the whole Boundary from Christina Lake up to, but not including Big White, which is already collecting the MRDT.

“We are in a good position to put in an application,” she said.

At the meeting on Feb. 3, stakeholders heard presentations from tourism groups from both Rossland and Nelson as well as from a representative from Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA), which is the regional representative for Destination BC.

“They all talked about how their destination marketing organizations were established and how they have benefited their region,” said Alblas. “It was very evident that every year they’ve had increased bed stays. That would be the mandate with our business plan as well.”

Alblas said all of the accommodators wanted to increase the length of the shoulder season.

“The meeting was about bringing all of our stakeholders and partners together so we could have a discussion about how that destination marketing organization is going to look in our region,” she said, “because there are options we can look at. It was a very positive meeting; very hopeful. The biggest positive of all of this is that we will have collaboration of all of our accommodations as well as the tourism industry around the table region-wide. Now we have to be thinking regionally. We don’t live in a place with high population in each of our communities so we have to think collaboratively to move forward.”

Alblas said all the regions surrounding the Boundary are collecting the MRDT hotel tax and building their “tourism empires.”

“We are among the 10 per cent of B.C. which does not collect the MRDT,” she said.

“We need to begin ours and that’s what this destination marketing organization will help us do,” she said.

Alblas said they will continue to meet and decide on the next steps.