Vernon pursues hike to hotel tax

More money could roll into marketing Vernon as a tourism destination.

As part of the 2017/21 Tourism Vernon business strategic plan, council will pursue an increase of the local hotel room tax from two to three per cent.

“This is not driven by the staff. This is driven by the accommodators,” said Kevin Poole, economic development manager.

“That one per cent (increase) will generate close to $250,000 for the organization. It gives us a little more buying power.”

In 2015, the two per cent generated $616,621 for tourism initiatives.

City staff will begin the process of formally meeting with the accommodation sector to seek their endorsement to collect the additional one per cent room tax.

As part of the strategic plan, the city is also looking at bolstering resources.

Up to $80,000 of the hotel tax reserve will go towards a contractor to assist in the delivery of the tourism service until a review of the organizational structure and staffing levels is completed.

Some of the focus will be on trying to attract sports events to Vernon, while the city wants to prepare local businesses for the eventual opening of the Okanagan Rail Trail.

“We want to leverage the opportunity so Vernon is seen as the hub of the trail,” said Poole.

A seat will also be added at the tourism advisory committee for the cultural sector.

“It would be a start to raise awareness about the value culture has,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.

Presently, the City of Vernon funds the tourism program although it promotes activities throughout the North Okanagan.

One goal is to approach other jurisdictions and see if they will fund tourism marketing.

“It will be a challenge but they recognize the importance of economic development,” said Cunningham.

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