Summerside gets approval for tourism levy increase

Ryan Ross
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It could soon be a bit more expensive to rent a hotel room in Summerside after a recent change in legislation allowed the city to increase its tourism levy.
Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart said he expects the one per cent increase to raise an extra $30,000 to $40,000 to help promote the city.

"It certainly worked out well the last few years," he said.

Summerside has a two per cent tourism accommodation levy, but plans to increase it one percentage point, which would bring it line with what customers pay in Charlottetown.

A change in legislation was needed to allow for the increase, but instead of just changing the law to raise the levy by one point, the government chose to eliminate any maximum limit.

That change was made through the Municipal Statutes Amendment Act 2013, which removed the maximum limit for tourism levies set by councils under separate legislation for Charlottetown, Summerside and the province's other municipalities.

It allows municipalities to set their own levy rates without having to get a change in legislation every time.

Municipal Affairs Minister Wes Sheridan said the change was made at Summerside's request and the government decided to deal with the other areas at the same time.

"We'll update them just so there will be no ceiling on the levies. It will be up to municipalities themselves to make that decision from here on out," he said.

The change doesn't impact other areas outside of the municipalities where the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. (TIAPEI) is asking its members for input about the possibility of introducing a tourism levy.

In Summerside, a committee that included representatives from the city's tourism association and hotel operators asked council for an increase, which Stewart said it has approved.

Stewart said other municipalities have similar levies and the money will be used to promote the city, including some funding for Meetings and Conventions P.E.I.

"We're just sort of keeping in line with others," he said.

Organizations: Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I., TIAPEI

Geographic location: Summerside, Charlottetown

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