Tourism accommodators petitioned for input

Industry stakeholders sounded out on new hotel tax

Vardo Creative principal Susan Rybar

Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association (CCCTA) chief executive officer Amy Thacker spoke with a group of six tourism stakeholders who turned out to provide input at the Horton Ventures conference room on Nov. 29.

She presented an overview of tourism marketing and results in the region, and gathered input on a new regional tourism plan, and the potential for a new hotel tax in British Columbia.

Implementing the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) within the region has been brought forward by numerous tourism “accommodators,” Thacker said.

It is estimated to potentially collect between $360,000 and $450,000 for local tourism strategies. The CCCTA proposes the money should be used for tourism marketing.

While just six stakeholders showed up for the meeting, she noted all accommodators were invited by letter, and follow-up calls were also made.

Thacker was assisted in the presentation by Vardo Creative principal Susan Rybar, whose company provides strategic planning, marketing and business consulting services to the tourism industry.

Rybar said the plan has been in the works for several years, and a draft plan will be available and distributed to interested stakeholders after the new year.

“We’ll be absolutely looking for a show of support.”

The general discussion indicated support for increased marketing efforts to grow awareness of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, including the 100 Mile House and South Cariboo area.

The CCCTA proposes to apply for the MRDT on behalf of, and with the support of the seven regional districts, six municipalities and various tax-eligible accommodators in the region.

Thacker later said the accommodators present were not opposed to the tax, but they noted the greater community of businesses benefits significantly from tourism.

The group had expressed a need to engage with local businesses, she added, through the South Cariboo Chamber of Commerce, for both financial support and for input and execution of any future plans.

The group thought the regional plan should be realistic and set reasonable targets for the industry, considering the challenges they have been dealing with, Thacker explained.

“The priority that we heard [at the meeting] was for increased regional marketing efforts to grow awareness and intent to travel to the region. One operator stated ‘you get them to our region anywhere and it is my job to get them to my business and make them happy’.”

Rybar shared some background information from the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Regional Profile with the group.

While the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast (CCC) is the largest tourism region geographically, it gets the smallest amount of tourism, in terms of visitation and spending.

B.C. gets 15.7 million visitors each year, bringing about $8.1 billion in spending. About three per cent of those visitors are in the CCC, but the region gets only about one per cent of the province’s tourism revenue from all visitors, and two per cent of its leisure visitors.

For more details on regional performance data, download the full profile at www.destinationbc.ca, under “Research by Region”.

Thacker said she and Rybar are visiting every community in the CCC where it is feasible to have stakeholders gather and discuss these issues.

By the end of the 100 Mile House meeting, the mood was positive and supportive of two per cent for a possible MRDT, she added, and additional signatures were acquired for the show of support.

“We will now begin follow-up with all those stakeholders who were not able to attend community meetings to ensure they have all the information, and input from these discussions will be incorporated into a tourism plan to be shared with the industry.”

For more information on MDRT, contact Amy Thacker at 1-800-663-5885 or e-mail at MRDT@landwithoutlimits.ca.

For more on the plan, or to provide input, contact Rybar at 250-706-4904, or susan@vardocreative.com.