Tourism Prince George will take center stage at Monday’s city council meeting as it requests an increase in the city’s municipal and regional district tax. The extra funding would go towards marketing activities to promote the city as a tourism destination.
CEO of Tourism Prince George, Erica Hummel says she plans to propose a hotel tax increase from two per cent to three, which could raise tourism revenue by up to $400,000. “Over the last six years that we’ve had the tax, we have increased the revenue by 40 per cent, so we believe that it’s an achievable goal and that’s basically by following the plan and boosting sport tourism, conventions, and meetings.”
About three quarters of its funding comes from such taxes paid by out of town visitors. Hummel plans to place a strong emphasis on product development should the extra funding be awarded through a hotel tax increase. “We have lots of rivers, lots of great lakes and trails, but not a lot of rentals where you can go and try and mountain bike for the first time or go fly-fishing with a guide. It’s not as accessible, so we really want to try and increase the amount of ticketable tourism product available.”
In order to gain approval, the province requires Tourism Prince George to demonstrate at least a 51 per cent agreement from hotel owners. General Manager of The Prestige Treasure Cove Hotel, Nigel Rimmer, is optimistic about the plan. “There’s other communities who are applying to do this and if we don’t do it and they do, that’s going to increase their marketing and visitors will go there instead of here.”
The maximum hotel tax allowed in B.C. is three per cent, although other cities are pressuring the government to increase the ceiling. If the hotel industry gives its thumbs and support is granted by City Hall, legislation for a hotel tax increase will be taken to the provincial government. If approved, visitors to Prince George can expect the increase by July 1st, 2017.