Marketing levy proposed for hotel operators

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Concept would enable the industry to better promote the region on a wider scale, says CNTA official

TRURO - A $2 marketing levy is being proposed for all room rentals at commercial accommodations within Colchester County that offer 10 or more beds.

Colchester County hotel operations, such as the Holiday Inn and Best Western Glengarry in Truro, will be charging $2 more per room per night if a proposed marketing levy is approved by Colchester County council, which is studying the issue following a proposal by the the Central Nova Tourist Association.

"The main goal of the levy is to put more heads in beds," said Joyce Mingo, executive director for the Central Nova Tourist Association (CNTA) during a recent presentation to Colchester County council.

"We need to find more money to market our region to draw more people here," she said. "The main goal is to increase occupancy rates."

With some hotel operators "struggling to survive" because of occupancy rates that average 54 per cent, Mingo said, the funding raised through a levy would enable the industry to better promote the region on a wider scale.

Some Nova Scotia municipalities have already enacted the levy and its concept is supported by the provincial government, she said.

As well, the towns of Truro, Parrsboro, Amherst, Oxford and Stewiacke have signed on to participate in collecting a marketing levy.

Some Colchester County councillors, however, expressed skepticism with the concept.

"I know when I go anywhere I always get pissed off when I see that on my bill," Coun. Mike Cooper said.

Council referred the proposal to committee for future consider

And Coun. Tom Taggart questioned how the levy would be received by the public, given that the municipality would be responsible for collecting it from individual operations.

"My issue is, we're going to collect the money, it will be perceived as another tax," he said.

Jimmy LeFresne, owner of the Train Station Inn, appeared before council to speak out against the proposed levy.

Because his inn only has nine rooms, LeFresne said he would not be affected by the levy. But he said its introduction could prevent him from adding another room if he so desired and he also questioned "who is pushing this" - the tourism industry itself or the owners of larger chain hotels that he suggested would most benefit from the marketing dollars that would be generated.

"We have a different clientele than the Super 8s and the chain hotels," LeFresne said. "I'm not here to knock the CNTA, I'm just here to tell the other side of the story."

Regarding the 54 per cent occupancy rate, he said that is already higher than the provincial average of 48 per cent.

And if such a levy is introduced, LeFresne suggested it be applied to all sites that offer accommodation, including such unlicensed establishments as the Debert Hospitality Centre and smaller operations that are run out of private homes.

"Why not tax them all?" he said. "I'm a strong believer that if you are in business, you are in business."

Twitter: @tdnharry


Organizations: Central Nova Tourist Association, Colchester County council, Train Station Inn Debert Hospitality Centre

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Truro, Oxford Stewiacke Colchester County

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Recent comments

  • Stephen Tucker
    December 04, 2013 - 06:56

    While i am from Truro and $2 a night is not going to hurt me. In fact most visitors will not be aware of the extra taxuntil they leave so the impact on regular visitors will not be noticed for a year. I think it is a bad idea as the hotel rates in the Truro area far higher than most places that i visit and the quality isa bit lower. For me the bigger problem is that truro has a high crime rate looks run down and has little to offer. Truro need to focus on its identity. Give people a reason to come to Truro.

  • ann
    December 04, 2013 - 06:51

    I think travellers will object to this extra charge on their hotel/motel bills and it will wind up defeating the purpose of bringing more people to the area. We already pay 15% HST on hotel bills and I don't think people will like having to pay anything more on top of that.

  • Ray McLennan
    December 03, 2013 - 21:24

    Placing a "Levy" on room rates will increase the cost of accommodation and make other location without any levy more appealing. This is simply another tax grab by council