Tourism escalates in Vernon

As of August, Vernon’s hotel room tax is 15.2 per cent ahead of 2015

Big dollars are flowing because of tourism.

As of August, Vernon’s hotel room tax is 15.2 per cent ahead of 2015 which was a record year,  and those funds are directed into destination marketing.

“We’re seeing interest and we’re leveraging that interest to get people to stay here,” said Ange Chew, tourism manager.

A 15.2 per cent hike in hotel tax for the first eight months of 2016 translates into an additional $3.28 million spent on hotel room stays. Based on a model that looks at all visitor spending, including hotels, meals, shopping and activities, the $3.28 million equates to an extra $13.14 million in total visitor economic impact in Vernon.

And the hotel revenue doesn’t take into account tourists who stay with friends and family or camp.

Attractions, retail and dining partners have experienced 10 to 25 per cent increase in traffic and revenues.

“The cooler weather moves visitors from lakes to attractions and retail,” said Chew.

Hotel tax in July climbed by 75.2 per cent, largely because of Funtastic and two long weekends – Canada Day and B.C. Day – in the month. Revenue for the month was $5.5 million.

Figures for August were up 21.5 per cent, with total hotel room revenue of $5.8 million.

Much of the revenue from the hotel tax goes directly to marketing Vernon.

“We’re really focusing on multi-media. Visitors are learning about Vernon through multiple means and not just one,” said Chew of print, Internet, radio and TV.

A major emphasis in recent years has been inviting media from across North America and around the world to explore Vernon and write or broadcast about it.

“For every $1 we spend, we get $46 in return in the media,” said Chew.

As an example, a 4.5-page article in Westworld magazine about Vernon has a value of about $67,000 in marketing.

“Those articles have a direct benefit to our tourism partners (local businesses) who are mentioned.”