WINSLOE — A proposed tourism levy generated heated debate during a meeting Wednesday night of bed and breakfast operators.
The Bed and Breakfast and Country Inns Association hosted the meeting at the Winsloe Lions club to look at a proposed three per cent accommodations levy. Close to 20 people attended.
“Nobody has made a decision in favour or against a proposed provincial levy,” said Don Cudmore, executive director of Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I.
The idea is a proposal only, he said, and will only proceed if the industry gives it “significant” support.
“We are not pushing this thing ahead,” said Cudmore. “We are not even sure it is the right way to go.”
The industry is going to face continued government cutbacks to the Tourism Department, said Cudmore, but marketing and development need to continue to keep the momentum of success going. The association asked government to work up some data on a levy.
There is such a levy in place already in Charlottetown and Summerside and most places around the world.
Chris Jones of the P.E.I. Department of Tourism did the study and came up with an estimate of $2.1 million from such a levy on P.E.I.
The money will go to the five regional tourism associations, plus Meetings and Conventions P.E.I., with some going to an investment fund for marketing and support of events.
During the question period, association president Jane Dunphy said small accommodations like bed and breakfast operations don’t benefit at all from conventions.
“There is no taste in the convention people to getting the people to stay on Prince Edward Island any more than the five days the convention lasts,” she said. “I tried and it didn’t happen. I was shut out.”
Some wanted to know why the levy proposal does not follow Charlottetown and Summerside’s lead, apply only to businesses that have 10 units or more.
Then the discussion turned to why there isn’t a levy or something applied to all the attractions and restaurants that also benefit from tourists.
“We agree 100 per cent,” said Cudmore. “We would like to be able to spread the load but that is going to be a more difficult task.”
Others wanted to know how the levy was going to be collected and how much that administration effort would cost.
They were told it would be an honour system enforced with random audits and administration costs would be about two per cent of the total revenue.