Hoteliers voice concerns

Council decision to change tourism services raises questions about city's hotel room tax

  • Nov. 3, 2011 6:00 a.m.

Hotels and other accommodators are casting a wary eye on last week’s decision by Penticton council to change the guard over tourism, economic development and visitor information services for the city.

Robert Hodson, a member of the Penticton Hospitality Association, said Thursday that businesses offering accommodations in the area had no input on the decision by the city to award the three-pronged service contract to the fledgling Penticton Business Development Group.

“We weren’t consulted,” Hodson said. “We’re looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen, but we just have some questions that haven’t been answered yet. We’re in the preliminary stage of getting answers, and unfortunately the answers haven’t been forthcoming.”

According to the city’s RFP, the newly minted group will now have access to the revenue generated by the two-per-cent additional hotel room tax (AHRT) to provide marketing to the Penticton tourism industry.

Hodson said that tax was approved in 2005 by a majority of accommodators with conditions set out in a detailed plan, which is up for renewal in 2012. That document detailed limits on administrative expenditures of 20 per cent, and set aside 80 per cent for marketing initiatives — some of which, for sport tourism, have won provincial recognition.

Under the agreement, Hodson said, the Tourism Advisory Council administers and controls the AHRT fund, which can exceed $450,000 on a yearly basis. Five board members of the council are elected by accommodators, he added.

“What’s going to happen to our representation now that TAC will now be dissolved come Dec. 31? What’s going to happen to our say? Is the money still going to be spent the way it’s supposed to be as mandated?” he said.

Hospitality association members will be meeting with the Penticton Business Development Group today (Friday) about the governance structure, and Hodson said he hoped that would start the flow of communication between all organizations.

“I’m sure everybody in this community, we’re all coming together for the same cause,” he said.

“We just want the answers. We want to make sure we’re heard.”


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