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LETTER: Harrison hotel tax expansion not a money grab

Tourism Harrison executive director Robert Reyerse explains why the group was looking for the change
The Harrison Hot Springs Resort. Visitors to the resort currently pay a three per cent "hotel tax," which is brought back to the district to help fund tourism initiatives. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

Last week’s article “Harrison hoping to expand hotel tax to Kent, parts of Fraser Valley” did not provide a complete picture of Tourism Harrison and its current MRDT renewal.

Tourism Harrison has a mandate, defined in its constitution to “promote tourism on behalf of Harrison Hot Springs, District of Kent, Harrison Mills and adjacent areas.”

It has undertaken this mandate as a not-for-profit society under the direction of an independent Board of Directors since its inception, and actively supports all the tourism-related businesses in our region.

In addition Tourism Harrison manages the Circle Farm Tour, provides direct support to the Agassiz Harrison Museum Visitor Centre, organizes the Agassiz Farms Cycle Tour and provides direct marketing support to the Kilby Historic Site among other initiatives directed at the region.

The Tourism Harrison website lists and markets all accommodations in the entire region.

All of these activities have been funded exclusively by the hotel tax known as the MRDT charged to overnight hotel guests but only those visiting Harrison Hot Springs.

The current initiative to include the District of Kent and Electoral Area C of the FVRD in Tourism Harrison’s MRDT region is simply an effort to bring the MRDT region in line with the area Tourism Harrison actually markets.

It is not a new tax, it is not a money grab, simply an attempt to level the playing field.

As Airbnbs grow, many other Destination Marketing Organizations in the Province are looking at similar steps.

Tourism Hope recently established a MRDT region that includes Bridal Falls, for example.

Tourism Harrison believes that working together our region can achieve more than each area working on its own.

As part of that vision Tourism Harrison is expanding our brand to include “the Harrison River Valley” as a term to describe the entire region.

As we look to a time where we are coming out of this pandemic, a crisis that has hit the tourism sector harder than most, Tourism Harrison is creating a vision for the future and working to position tourism in our region in a way that brings success to all businesses and all areas.

-Robert Reyerse, Executive Director, Tourism Harrison

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