Local accommodations get behind new hotel tax

Visitors staying in Cranbrook hotels could soon be paying three per cent more for their room.

Arne Petryshen

Visitors staying in Cranbrook hotels could soon be paying three per cent more for their room.

At Monday night’s City Council meeting, the Cranbrook & Region Tourism Society was seeking support for the additional hotel tax in order to help fund its work as the new Destination Marketing Organization (DMO).

The application is under the province’s Municipal and Regional Tax Program. City staff estimated that the three per cent tax will generate somewhere around $450,000 annually in support of the DMO business plan and marketing efforts.

Council approved the recommendation and put its support behind the application, and a letter of support will be prepared to be signed by Mayor Lee Pratt on behalf of council.

City staff noted in the report for council that the provincial tax program is intended to significantly enhance funds available for such efforts through the additional hotel tax, and not to defray current investments in local tourism destination marketing.

By supporting the application the city has committed to maintaining its current level of funding for tourism marketing of $30,000 a year over the five-year term that the Municipal and Regional Tax Program will apply.

The Destination Marketing Organization was established by the City of Cranbrook and the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce as an industry-led, not-for-profit society. It was officially registered on Aug. 7, 2015.

At a meeting of the new DMO board in November, they decided to pursue the additional hotel tax.

In order to apply to the Municipal and Regional Tax Program, the board must show they have support of the accommodation sector for the tax. They need at least 51 per cent of the number of establishments that would collect the tax within the municipality representing 51 per cent of the total number of rooms.

Following that meeting, board directors canvased the local accommodation sector and, as of Dec. 22, have signed support from 10 of the 18 accommodation establishments that the tax levy would apply to. Those 10 establishments make up 65.6 per cent of the rooms in town, with 581, out of a total of 885 rooms.

The establishments that have so far signed support: Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort, Best Western Inn Cranbrook, Days Inn Cranbrook, Heritage Inn, Kootenay Country Inn, Hospitality Courtyard Inn, Nomad Motel, The Baker Hotel, Elizabeth Lake Lodge and Heritage Estate Motel.