Tourism promoter loses tax revenue

Not enough hoteliers supported room tax for Kermodei Tourism Society

TERRACE’S Kermodei Tourism Society won’t be getting tourism tax money as of June 1.

After a months-long effort to renew a two per cent accommodation tax on rooms in Terrace and Thornhill, the local tourism-marketing body has come up came up short of the support it needed.

The society set out on its quest to re-instate a two per cent tax levied from the price of local hotel and motel rooms late 2011.

The tax’s term will expire this June but an application needed to go to the provincial tourism ministry by April 11 for it to continue.

Hotelier support for the application came up short. “We had to report back to the ministry and tell them that we didn’t get the numbers that … we missed it by getting one additional hotel,” said Bruno Belanger, vice president of Kermodei Tourism.

As a result, the marketing body will lose, on average, more than  $100,000 annually.

Tax revenue brought in $105,000 up to October in 2011, $112,000 in 2010, $115,000 in 2009 and $127,000 in 2008.

“We’ll keep getting our money up until July 1,” said Belanger. “We’re having some meetings here to see what kind of strategic planning we can do for how we can raise funds or how we can get more funds we can use to promote Terrace.”

Signatures of support from 50 per cent of hotels and motels in the Terrace and Thornhill area, accounting for 50 per cent or more of rooms, were needed for the levy to continue.

Those who did want the tax re-instated include the Best Western Terrace Inn, The Coast Inn of the West, Evergreen Inn, Rainbow Inn, Wild Duck Motel & RV Park, Copper River Motel, and the Lodge at Skeena Landing.

Those who were not in favour include Sandman Hotels & Inns Terrace, the Alpine House Motel, the Bear Country Inn, the Cedars Motel, Kalum Motel, Reel Inn Motel, Northern Motor Inn and the Costa Lessa Motel.

But despite losing a primary source of operating money, Kermodei Tourism will continue to promote the region and make the best out of the resources it has, said Belanger.

“Kermodei Tourism isn’t going to fall apart,” he continued. “We’re moving forward.”

Also, if a majority of hoteliers were in favour of bringing the tourism tax back in the future, it is still a possibility, he said.

That would require starting over with the process as opposed to just renewing it like was attempted this time around.

“If things ever turned around or if we felt we had the support of some hotels  in town, definitely we could reapply,” said Belanger.

The society is still set to receive money from the city, although the final budget has yet to be voted official.

In former years, the city gave $75,000 yearly to Kermodei Tourism for marketing and operations, and it is slated for the same now.

“Council will have an opportunity to discuss this issue prior to voting on the budget,” said mayor Dave Pernarowski.

“Increasing the amount of funding the city provides to Kermodei tourism to make up for the loss of the visitor tax is certainly one option, but that would cost the taxpayers of Terrace more money.”

Pernarowski added the beauty of the visitor tax is it was paid by visitors to the region staying in hotels, and then used to attract other visitors to Terrace and to the region.

“Kermodei Tourism has done an excellent job of delivering its mandate and its obvious this loss of income will have an impact on their marketing efforts to attract tourists to Terrace,” he said.