Tourism funds expand

The maximum municipal hotel room tax can go from two to three per cent under provincial rules.

Additional money could be pumped into Vernon tourism marketing but not for a few years.

The provincial government has initiated a new program to promote B.C.’s tourism sector, including increasing the maximum municipal hotel room tax from two to three per cent.

“There could be an impact for the city but not until 2020 because we just renewed our tax agreement for five years,” said Ange Chew, Vernon’s tourism manager.

The province’s tourism events program will  support the planning, marketing and organization of events and celebrations  that offer a high tourism value.

Events could include arts, cultural or sporting events such as  the FIFA World Cup or Canada Winter Games.

Chew won’t speculate on whether the Vernon hotel room tax will increase.

“Upon 2020, it (increased tax) will be under consideration and we would have a discussion with our accommodation partners about three per cent,” she said.

Tourism Vancouver is the first eligible organization to request the  room tax increase. It takes effect Sept. 1.

“We know hosting events is an important way to grow our tourism sector  and the new tourism events program is a great way to build on the  successes of the 2010 Winter Olympics, the Canada Winter Games and the  FIFA Women’s World Cup,” said Shirley Bond, B.C.’s jobs minister.

“These investments mean we can further  strengthen our reputation as a world-class event hosting destination  and increase the number of visitors to B.C.”