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Tourism dollars focus of debate
There are concerns that tourism dollars could be misdirected.
Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe wants assurances that Vernon’s hotel room tax will go towards marketing the area to tourists and not towards capital projects.
“We are undermarketed right now so I would have problems with taking away marketing dollars,” she said.
The issue arose after the tourism advisory committee recommended that hotel room tax revenue not be used to improve the Kalamalka Lake lookout because it is located outside of Vernon.
However, some council members questioned the recommendation from the advisory committee.
“It’s the south entrance to the city and we want to encourage tourism and first impressions are important,” said Coun. Catherine Lord.
The Society for the Protection of Kalamalka Lake wants to raise funds for lighting, landscaping and signage. Presently, the lookout is covered by graffiti and litter is common.
While O’Keefe agrees projects like upgrading the lookout are important, she insists the funds can’t take away from promoting Vernon as a destination.
“External marketing is an expensive game,” she said, adding that other cities have larger advertising budgets.
“Vernon has never had a competitive amount in its external marketing. If we use it properly, we will get more people in our hotels and restaurants. We need to focus on the money and not let it leach away.”
Ultimately, council agreed not to fund upgrades to the Kalamalka Lake lookout.
The city will also forward the matter to the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee because the lookout is located within Area B.