The District of Squamish (DoS) this week moved to support in principle the application of a hotel tax, while also seeking a report from the Squamish Sustainability Corporation (SSC) by the end of April.
Councilor Greg Gardner, who made the motion at Tuesday’s meeting, said Tourism Squamish is relying too exclusively on grant dollars.
“There has to be another source of revenue if this is to be sustainable,” he said. “The reason I’m bringing this forward is the DoS is spending significant resources on the development of tourism resources in the community.”
The tax would be in the range of 2.5 to three per cent. The money would go to Tourism Squamish, who would then use it for marketing and promotion.
Mayor Ian Sutherland supported the idea, saying the district has been “very generous” with its money, and that the hotel industry should be a part of the solution. If hotel operators want a say in how the money is spent, they have but to join Tourism Squamish.
Councillor Corrine Lonsdale said the idea of a hotel tax was bandied about some years ago, but support from the industry was abysmal. Apparently, the administrative costs of applying and tracking the tax were too substantial. Other members of council indicated that there’s still reluctance among various operators in the local industry.
“Perhaps one of the reasons some hotels have resisted this is because they are very busy,” Gardner said, adding that business is likely coming from Kiewet and other clients that won’t be around in the long term.
In addition, Gardner said he knows of three more hotels to be built over the next few years.
In Whistler, there’s a hotel tax set up under the province’s B.C. Resort Municipality Initiative. Osoyoos is the latest municipality to join that effort, which the province launched in the hopes of doubling tourism in the province by 2015.
There are five other municipalities eligible to take part, but Squamish isn’t one of them.