Tourism prospects continue to improve for Castlegar. In a meeting at the Quality Inn on Monday evening, local hoteliers, members of parliament and the Castlegar and District Tourism Committee shared their thoughts on tourism and the newly implemented room tax.
The room tax will be bringing in a significant chunk of money to the city. This money will then be allocated to advertising and various methods of drawing even more tourism into town.
Executive Director for the Chamber of Commerce, Tammy Verigin-Burk, has a clear path to follow after the meeting.
She said, “The next step for us is to re-engage and set forth with the hiring and policy and procedure of the strategic plan that will be rolling out in April. As well as hiring our part-time destination marketing coordinator.”
South Okanagan—West Kootenay Conservative Candidate, Marshall Neufeld was present to add to the discussion.
Neufeld explained, “We had the representatives of the four main hotels in Castlegar as well as people from the chamber. It was really exciting to see Tammy and all of her people be so excited about working regionally as the hotel tax has just been introduced. So obviously all the hotels here are working together.”
The municipal and regional district tax (room tax) is a tax of up to two per cent charged on sales of taxable accommodation in participating municipalities and regional districts in B.C.
The tax assists municipalities, regional districts and other eligible entities in promoting tourism in their area and financing new tourist facilities or programs.
In an attempt to garner more recognition for Castlegar, Neufeld invited the chair of Parliamentary Tourism Caucus, Blake Richards.
Richards mentioned the meeting brought up many ways that the federal government can help in building and growing tourism within the community and he is eager to explore them further.
“I heard a lot of great optimism in the room about the fact that there is a great opportunity for tourism here,” Richards said, “we’re always looking for ways that we can partner but now we have the largest infrastructure program in the history of Canada we just rolled out last year.”
He said new regional initiatives may arise from the New Building Canada Plan that was recently launched. Somewhat further down the road — in 2017 — is Canada’s 150th birthday.
“The opportunities that exist there for potential travel or tourism related initiatives, festivals, these kind of things are endless. So we’re encouraging the community to look at ways to help celebrate that and grow tourism in the region as a result.”
Extra tourism funding will be available in the year of 2017 and Verigin-Burk is looking to jump on that right away.