Marketing move brings backlash

Penticton Hospitality Association contends majority of accommodators oppose transition to new body

  • Dec. 22, 2011 6:00 p.m.

The Penticton Hospitality Association has written the provincial finance minister in an effort to resolve their concerns over the incoming Penticton Business Development Group’s control over marketing funds.

PHA spokesperson Barb Schneiderat said a majority of accommodators in town are resisting the move, as members were not consulted on the group’s choices for the inaugural board.

“We believe it was a back-room deal,” she said. “Everything was decided before we heard about it. It’s the same with the selection of the board. A number of people had already been chosen before.

“I know they said during the elections that things are going to be transparent. They don’t seem to be transparent to us.”

On Monday, the City of Penticton approved a list of seven names of individuals chosen by the group’s selection committee. Council also approved the group’s signing authority over the funds collected through the additional hotel room tax (AHRT). That tax is a two-per-cent levy paid by hotel and motel customers that, when pooled together locally, totals more than $500,000 — designed to be spent on marketing initiatives.

Schneiderat said accommodators signed an agreement to collect the AHRT until mid-June 2012. They were permitted input on spending and marketing campaigns through an advisory board that worked alongside the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, which holds the contract until Dec. 31.

Accommodators are so incensed about the changes, though, that they may not sign an extension of the AHRT agreement. She said that provincial law requires a two-part majority of accommodators to agree to the tax before it can be implemented: 51 per cent of property owners and 51 per cent of rooms.

“We’re telling the minister that 30 properties out of the 43 in Penticton are not happy with the way the city has handled this,” she said, adding expiration of the current agreement without a replacement is a possibility.

“That’s a possibility that the mayor and council are going to understand, that when it comes to doing the vote again, we need the numbers. Right now, the numbers don’t add up.”

Agreements also take four to six months to receive assent in the legislature, she said, adding the PHA hopes the finance minister will agree to meet with them to discuss the issue.