The long-anticipated hotel tax in the Cowichan Valley is expected to be in place by next year.
The Municipality of North Cowichan voted unanimously at its meeting on Oct. 19 to provide a letter of support for the implementation of the tax, formally called the Municipal Regional District Tax, as requested by the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
North Cowichan is the final municipal jurisdiction in the Valley to vote to implement the new tax.
The MRDT is intended as a new fund that will be used to significantly increase the marketing resources available to promote tourism in the Valley.
It’s been estimated that on an annual basis, the tax will produce up to $300,000 in new tourism-marketing support.
The MRDT will be administered by the CVRD and directed to the Tourism Cowichan Society based on a contribution agreement which will be led by the district.
Janet Docherty, chairwoman of the society, said the majority of the hospitality businesses that rent rooms in the Valley have signalled they are in favour of the hotel tax.
She said the amount of tax that will be payed for each room will be based on a percentage of the total cost of the room, but the exact percentage for each room has yet to be determined.
Docherty said the tax will be mandatory.
“It should be said that the money from the tax won’t come from the hotels themselves, but from the tourists who stay in them,” she said.
“The Cowichan Valley is currently at a disadvantage with many other jurisdictions on Vancouver Island who already have hotel tax policies in place to assist their local tourism initiatives.”
Earlier this year, the CVRD approved a five-year agreement with the society that will see the society receive $120,000 per year from the district to deliver regional tourism marketing on behalf of the district.
The agreement also allowed the society to pursue the implementation of the hotel tax on the Valley’s accommodation industry to help pay for destination marketing.
The TCS was also earmarked for $138,000 in funding from Destination BC, but that came with the condition that the money must be leveraged with funding from other local agencies and stakeholders, so the funding from the CVRD secured it for the society.
Jon Lefebure, mayor of North Cowichan and chairman of the CVRD, said he’s pleased with the progress that the TCS has made so far in its goal to increase tourism in the region, including its work on establishing the hotel tax.
“We expect Tourism Cowichan to do a great job advertizing and bringing more people to the Valley,” he said.
Docherty said now that approval has been given by local governments for the hotel tax, the next step is for it to receive the final approval of the CVRD, and then be sent for review and approval from Destination BC and the Ministry of Finance.
“We also have to allow time for the businesses to set up the tax, so there’s a lot of time issues involved, but we hope to see it implemented by mid-2017,” she said.