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