SUMMERSIDE – The Bed and Breakfast and Country Inns Association will discuss tonight the impact of a proposed three per cent accommodations levy on their businesses.
The 7 p.m. meeting at the Winsloe Lions hall will feature a presentation on the levy from Chris Jones of Tourism P.E.I. and Don Cudmore, executive director of Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. and an open discussion of the levy and its effects on smaller accommodations.
Association president Jane Dunphy said there are too many unanswered questions and too many rumours circulating.
“How will the levy decision be made?” she asked.
“By whom? Who will benefit from it? How would the levy be collected? Distributed? Why are not the numerous other tourism-based operators also being asked to collect the proposed levy? And why only accommodations?” are just some of her questions.
Another is why is it being proposed for the same time as the introduction of the HST?
“We still don't know what the impact will be of the HST. Wouldn't this just be a big way to really put potential tourists off P.E.I.?”
Association secretary Patrick Higgins said bed and breakfast operations weren’t addressed in the initial discussions.
“They never answered any questions about how it was going to be done and when and where,” he said. “They never made any mention to one of the biggest accommodation providers and that’s bed and breakfasts. They mentioned hotels and motels and campgrounds and we just want some answers as to how it’s going to affect our small businesses.”
Cudmore said TIAPEI is looking for input into the proposed levy.
“A few months back the executive of TIAPEI realized that our marketing- product development budget from government and from industry continued to decline and it didn’t looked like we were going to be growing our budget for those very important items,” Cudmore said.
“We wrote the province and asked them if they would do some research as to what a provincial levy would do. How much would it raise? Who would be included? What the percentage would be and how it would be distributed?”
Cudmore said TIAPEI made it clear at that time it was supporting the potential levy.
“We just wanted to find out what the issues would be with one and what we would receive,” he said. “When we got that we took a look at it and brought our tourism associations in and asked them to take a look at what was being presented. They made some fairly substantial adjustments especially to the amount that would be raised and how it would be spent.”
The idea was then presented to all regional tourism associations and some other groups.
“We also want to make them aware of the fact that there are certainly decreasing funds for marketing and product development. It’s basically the opposite of what’s happening in other provinces where they’re adding to it,” said Cudmore.
He added tonight’s meeting will hopefully answer many of the questions surrounding the levy.
“We will likely have answers for some of them but maybe not all of them,” he said. “It’s been a process now where we’re looking for that kind of feedback. Once all the meetings are done we would request feedback from every meeting that we did with their position and we would go from there. We’ve been assured by the province, as well as my board, that if there’s significant resistance to it then it would just die.”
Some organizations are more sensitive to it, he said.
“With the B and B Association it would be more widespread and impact them. With campgrounds, it would impact them more as well because neither one of them with 10 rooms or under pay a levy.”