Editorial: Timing is right for hotel tax

Why yes, we’d be happy to accept traveller’s cheques.

The City of Nanaimo moved to implement a two-per cent hotel tax last month, pending a rubber stamp from the provincial government. Officially called the Municipal and Regional District Tax, money collected must go to supplementing tourism funding, and in Nanaimo it’s expected to bring in around $400,000 in its first year.

It’s perhaps surprising we weren’t already collecting this tax – Victoria, Parksville and Courtenay are some of the places that happily collect two per cent on accommodation. Across B.C., 47 municipalities and regional districts charge hotel tax. We probably stay in some of those cities when we take our holidays, and if we’re contributing to tourism there, it’s only fair that visitors here do the same.

It costs a lot to travel, and an extra two per cent on room charges adds up – especially on a Hilton bill – but it will be bearable for tourists. People don’t tend to spend a lot of time researching these sort of surcharges while planning a trip.

This hotel tax benefits Nanaimo, though at the same time, that’s oversimplifying things. When it comes to tourism, value for dollar is an intangible. An extra $400,000 to spend on tourism marketing will be appreciated, but its true worth depends on how the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation and the Nanaimo Hospitality Association manage that money. Ideally, we create a virtuous-circle effect: the hotel tax provides extra marketing funds, which boosts tourism, which increases hotel stays.

There are high stakes. We’ve now got two major hotel projects in the works downtown. Our local economy is increasingly dependent on being a tourist destination and a travel hub.

There are a lot of fantastic cities to visit in British Columbia and this new hotel tax gives Nanaimo a fair shake at competing to attract tourists. Now that we’re caught up, let’s surge ahead. In B.C.’s tourism industry, let’s be innovators and leaders.

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