Tourism fee hikes panned

Teresa Wright
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

PC critic says province “gouging” tourism operators

Matthew Jelley at his Shining Waters Family Fun Park in Cavendish

Both the Opposition and some P.E.I. tourism operators are slamming increases to licences and inspection fees for tourism operators.

Cabinet recently approved steep increases to fees charged to tourism accommodations’ owners for accreditation as licensed establishments and for inspections.

Opposition tourism critic James Aylward said he believes this move is ‘gouging’ P.E.I. tourism operators.

“What (government) is doing is taking money directly out of the operators’ pockets, which they could be re-investing into their properties,” Aylward said.

“He’s gouging Islanders, he’s gouging tourism operators and we don’t just see it in tourism, we see it in every department across government.”

Beginning this fall, roofed accommodations will pay $50-$100 more for licences, depending on the number of units it houses. Smaller accommodations will pay $150, up from $100, and this will increase to $200 by 2015.

Motels and hotels with more than five units, which now pay $150 plus $7 per room, will pay $100 more this year and this will go up to $300 by 2015 with an additional $8.50 per room.

Campgrounds will also see incremental increases in licence fees of $35 to $150 over the next three years, depending on the number of sites it hosts.

For inspections, new operators will also have to pay $250- — a 233 per cent increase over the current cost. And operators who need a re-inspection will have to pay a new $250 fee for this service, which currently costs nothing.

Matthew Jelley, president of the Cavendish Beaches and the Dune Shores Tourism Association, says there have been growing concerns in the industry about a rise in the number of tourism accommodations operating without a licence.

The fee increases for licences could make this problem worse, Jelley said.

“You don’t need to have a masters degree to realize that’s going to have an opposite effect (to encouraging licensing) and drive operators underground, especially operators on the fringe that need the inspections the most.”

Jelley also said operators have been frustrated over the lack of enforcement by the licensing agency in dealing with problematic properties.

“The fees are basically doubling over night, it seems like such a large increase and at the end of the day people want to see value for that money,” Jelley said.

“Over the past number of years there has been a lack of strong action by the inspection group to shut down some of the poorer quality institutions.”

The fees are collected by Quality Tourism Services (QTS), a non-profit organization that offers accreditation and performs inspections of P.E.I. tourism accommodations.

Tourism Minister Robert Henderson said that organization, as well as the Tourism Industry Association, requested the fee increase because QTS was operating on a deficit.

“Their mandate is to deliver those services in a cost-neutral manner,” Henderson said.

“We need these standards and we need to make sure those services are in place so I took it to cabinet to authorize those fee increases… this is all designed for the industry to protect itself so that when visitors come to Prince Edward Island there’s some standard and they get what they expected to receive.”

Henderson said he understands that any increase in fees is not going to be popular but felt “ultimately it’s important that these standards be met and that there’s an organization out there to provide an evaluation of those standards.”

He also said the HST will provide tourism operators with some financial relief when it is implemented next spring.

But Jelley said government should be careful when speaking of the HST as a financial panacea for tourism operators at a time when fees all across government are going up.

“If all of those benefits (of the HST) are clawed back by increased taxes and increased fees, it’s going to have very little net positive effect on the industry over a longer time.”

 

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

Organizations: Quality Tourism Services, Dune Shores Tourism Association, Tourism Industry Association

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Government theater presents....
    August 06, 2012 - 07:10

    It does seem ridiculous. Safety the big concern ? I doubt it. Enter sound of govt cash register.........................and scene!

  • Island voter
    August 04, 2012 - 21:27

    Fees for governemnt services????? We haven't seen anything yet!

  • whiney tourist operators
    August 04, 2012 - 14:53

    have no one to blame for there problems but themselves. a hike in fee's? cost of doing business, like the rest of business. we dont see other sectors with as much given to them as tourist operators, and yet they still cry. The Good Lord met with tourism operators and said "what can I do for you"? They said "give us a fun and generous people to populate the Island. Rolling hills and green fields. World class beaches, beautiful bays and inlets. A vibrant arts, crafts, music and entertainment community. A High quality food scene. Have the government pay to advertise our business, unlike other businesses." And the lord said "done". The operators said "lord you are so generous is there anything we can do for you, anything?" The lord said "well, I would like a glass of milk I guess". The tourism operators said "done.....That will be $11.95 please" sort of sums up tourism today.

  • goodbye
    August 04, 2012 - 13:21

    i often vacation off the island -- i find when i stay around the island tourism sites and facilities they constantly gouge every last 20 dollar bill they can get --- hope the operators are getting a feeling for what being gouged by someone feels like !!!

  • Mell
    August 04, 2012 - 10:50

    Clearly the only one that may be a winner is the government who is once again ripping off the operators. Tourism is already an overpriced commodity in the summer months on PEI as so many businesses are seasonal and have to overcharge to make money while the sun shines, so to speak. PEI has always been a seasonal place, whether it is fishing or tourists, and EI has always been high on the list- get enough time in to claim!! If operators have to pay more, then the tourist will suffer the consequences, and in my opinion, even more inspections will be needed to ensure the health and safety of tourists.

  • Darrin Deveau
    August 04, 2012 - 07:05

    I am a tourism operator and I for one am fed up with Tourism PEI. Where is the tax dollars I pay to the province going??? As an operator, should I raise my rates 100% next year...and yes I am running a deficit running my rental accommodations. A $250 charge for inspection is ludicrous!!! I just paid $1700 in provincial taxes for the month of July....you think there would be enough there to pay for the inspections............. I've invested almost $500,000 in my tourism business over the last 7 years and perhaps it is time to give up on it. Time to invest elsewhere....sunny Florida here I come. I will not invest 1one more penny in any PEI tourism product.... There is a price to pay for Tourism PEI policies!!! Toursim PEI needs to challenge themselves. The Dept has made errors on top of errors over the last few years...and they want the operators to pay for their misadventures. You do the crime, you do the time..... Hopefully we will all give the liberals the boot next election.

  • Brad
    August 04, 2012 - 06:36

    Tourism operators kept saying hst was needed to put them on an equal playing field with the other provinces . Well fees should go up to keep the tax payer on an equal playing field to help make up the shortfall tourism going to get back in rebates . Quit crying you cant have it both ways . How are you going to spin this one mr cudmore

  • Justine Thyme
    August 04, 2012 - 02:15

    Terrible these places have to pay such high fees, an unnecessary increase in fees will hurt these businesses taking from their savings, wonder if these businesses thought about that when their groups supported the HST? Careful what you wish for, apparently on PEI karma will bite you in your red supporting behind.

  • North shore-er
    August 03, 2012 - 22:43

    I own a waterfront cottage that I ""lend"" to extended family and friends on occasion. Why in the world would I want to get involved in any type of inspection services with the resultant regulations, fees and taxes? It isn't a primary business-it's hardly a business at all and the price of inspection etc would make it unprofitable. As to Don Cudmore (of Tourism PEI fame) and his claim that tourists are putting their health at risk by staying at uninspected properties: like most things in the economy, rental situations police themselves. Trip Advisor, Kijijii and Facebook will shut an unacceptable place down faster than any inspector. Just like the upcoming HST, by doing this the government is driving the economy even further underground..

  • tourism dept has friends who need cash now
    August 03, 2012 - 20:09

    Look you tourism operators, the department needs allot of cash to hand out in these un tendered private contracts for liberal friends. The Cavendish "festival" has got nothing on the festival atmosphere of Ghiz and his team enriching themselves while borrowing millions more every week. We need more fees from any fees the money grabbing and looting is going to full speed. Remember 1 island for all islanders. Dig it and vote liberal.