Hope has just received the tourism boost it so desperately needs, in the form of a hotel tax.
Beginning Oct. 1, all hotels and AirBnBs in the Hope, Cascades and the Fraser Canyon region have been collecting a two per cent hotel tax from guests. The area hosts a total of 29 properties and 632 rooms. By this time next year, a conservative estimate of $80,000 in tax revenue is expected to be generated, says AdvantageHOPE executive director Shannon Jones.
And that money will be funneled into efforts to draw in more room stays, such as increasing shoulder season events in the region, focusing on sports tourism, and giving back to the industry through business development opportunities.
It’s a tax that has been benefiting surrounding communities for several years now, Jones says, and it’s taken 13 years for Hope to get the “Destination Marketing Organization” (DMO) designation needed to collect it. They needed to approach all property owners with beds, and get sign-on from 51 per cent of them. But in addition, they also needed support from what is equal to 51 per cent of beds in the area.
With the large number of small operations in the area, that brought up the required sign-ons up significantly, Jones says.
But that benchmark was eventually reached and everything was put into place for the beginning of the month.
The new tax does not cost business owners, they just collect it on behalf of the DMO in their area. The DMO here is Hope, Cascades & Canyons. That includes Hope to Boston Bar, Manning Park, and Bridal Falls/Popkum. It does not include campgrounds without cabins.
All of the funds collected must be used for destination marketing.
Jones uses Harrison Hot Springs as a community that has benefited from the hotel tax program, formally called the Municipal Region District Tax. Because of Harrison’s hotel tax, they’ve been able to improve the beauty on Esplanade, among other projects over the years.
Jones looks forward to the day the hotel tax here will translate into big changes.
“We want to make sure the property owners feel supported,” she says, “We want to help increase ‘heads in beds.’”
They are actively re-branding, with fresh new photography and a fresh website (www.hopebc.ca) with four micro-sites. And all of this could lead to Hope eventually becoming a resort municipality destination. It’s an important distinction, Jones says, and one she hopes all business owners get excited about due to the large number of travelers who drop into Hope.
“The businesses here pretty much all see tourists,” she says. “If you have a door that people can come in, you’re probably going to see tourists.”
The big job is to keep them coming back, and to encourage them to choose the area for longer stays. The tax is a benefit that surrounding communities have been enjoying for years, she adds, and now Hope can “be on the same playing field.”