“This hotel room tax was sold to Vancouver’s tourism operators by the B.C. Liberals as a way to pay for special events to keep hotel rooms full. Instead, millions from the hotel room tax are going directly to pay down debt created by the B.C. Liberals’ mismanagement of the convention centre,” says David Eby, New Democrat tourism spokesperson.
Starting September 1, the hotel tax in Vancouver will increase from two per cent to three per cent. But due to the B.C. Liberal cost overruns during the construction of the Vancouver Convention Centre, nearly 40 per cent of the total funds collected through this tax will be used to pay off Tourism Vancouver’s debt to the province.
“Tourism Vancouver got a terrible deal from the B.C. Liberals, and now they’re having to hike the hotel room tax to try to pay off convention centre debt,” said Eby. “In the last year alone, the convention centre debt grew by $2.7 million despite Tourism Vancouver making millions in payments using money that should have gone to promoting tourism.”
In 2003, Tourism Vancouver agreed to assume $90 million of the debt related to the expansion of the convention centre. Today the agency’s debt to the province now stands at more than $112 million.
“Tourism Vancouver is paying high interest rates on this debt to the province and as a result, the agency has less funding to spend on what it should be doing – promoting Vancouver tourism. For instance, last year’s New Year’s Eve party for downtown Vancouver was cancelled due funding shortfalls,” said Eby. “The province needs to act to fix this broken deal.”