City’s new tourism model to possibly include hotel tax

The city is considering the feasibility of implementing a hotel tax in Campbell River – one of the last few holdouts on the Island in charging such a tax.

The tax is being considered as part of an overhaul of the city’s tourism model.

Mayor Andy Adams said in a city news release that a tourism plan is currently in the works and that plan includes a hotel tax which would have to be approved by the provincial government.

“The five-year plan will be submitted to the province, alongside an application for a local hotel tax to fund expanded tourism marketing, which is supported by the majority of the local accommodation sector,” Adams said.

But Wayne Dzuris, owner of the Friendship Inn, disagrees that there’s a high level of support.

He said a hotel tax will only hurt the smaller businesses and is unfair to innkeepers.

“We’d be up for it if it was everybody,” he said, adding that all tourism operators including restaurants and gas stations should also have to charge a tourist fee.

“Put us on the same playing field. Don’t pick on just one group, it’s not fair.”

Adams said the purpose of charging an extra fee on accommodation bookings is to generate additional revenue for the city without going into taxpayers’ pockets.

“This new funding would come from visitors and tourists rather than local property taxes,” Adams said. “Once in place, it will significantly enhance our tourism promotion. Campbell River is one of only two remaining regions on Vancouver Island without this source of revenue.”

Ron Neufeld, the city’s general manager of operations, told the Mirror, however, that the tax is still far from a done deal.

He said Cadence Strategies, consultants hired by the city to work on a new tourism model, will first be consulting with affected stakeholders before submitting an application for a hotel tax.

“In order for us to make an application we would need to make sure there is enough support in the community to apply for the tax,” Neufeld said. “We’d be gauging support for that movement.”

Neufeld said that if successful, the tax would typically be set around two per cent, though he added the province is currently considering increasing hotel taxes to three per cent of booking costs.

Neufeld said the tax would go towards helping grow the tourism industry in the Campbell River area.

The city floated the idea of a hotel tax several years ago but pushback from innkeepers at the time killed the initiative.

Cadence consultants will be holding informal, drop-in discussions with tourism operators this month to determine whether there really has been a change of heart this time around.

Neufeld said the city is hoping to have its tourism plan completed and ready for send-off to the province by the end of this summer.