Sasquatch Mountain Resort. (Paul Henderson/Black Press Media)

LETTER: Let’s keep funds from hotel tax in the Hemlock Valley

Accommodation providers Kevin Sass and Wendy Cherry share their thoughts on a possible MRDT

Editor’s Note: This letter discusses the MRDT program, which sees accomodation providers in eligible communities charge a “hotel tax” to visitors. The letter says that Harrison Hot Springs is the one who wants to bring the MRDT to Hemlock Valley and that a decision has been made. This is not the case.

Although Harrison did initially manage the MRDT, and pass the funds to Tourism Harrison, this year Tourism Harrison will be applying to manage the funds themselves. The organization is in the process of consulting with accomodation providers, and will be making a decision on whether the District of Kent and Electoral Area C should be included based on a majority vote from the business owners.

RELATED: Tourism Harrison to become new recipient of hotel tax

Harrison Hot Springs has decided to add some new tax sources to their tourism tax base. Us!

There is a provincial taxation scheme, the MRDT, whereby a resort area can levy a tax on all accommodation guests with those funds to be used for tourism related promotional programs, among other things. It seems that council decisions have been made that would include Hemlock Valley in the Harrison program, without consulting us.

Harrison Hot Springs is a resort town – so is Hemlock Valley. Their community has been around for a long, long time and so has ours. Where their market appears to be at or nearing maturity, ours is only beginning. Hemlock Valley’s potential is staggering.

RELATED: District of Kent to defer support of hotel tax until businesses approve

Hemlock (Sasquatch Mountain Resort) is moving forward at a blistering pace. It is fully understandable that as we grow others will want to climb on board and get involved in the game, particularly after the economic distress caused by COVID. But like most other mountain resorts, our development will depend almost exclusively on the strategies of the resort ownership, the provincial government, our local community and, of course, the weather. And like most other mountain resorts we will find future success through a marketing initiative that is specific to us and to the alpine.

We understand that lake resorts and golf courses have traditionally been summer-centric. There has been a great deal of effort put in to increase winter business on the lake and that effort, in general, has achieved modest success.

Similarly, mountain resorts have traditionally been winter-centric but it is well documented that the summer potential in the mountains is possibly greater than winter, and imminently achievable.

History has determined that the Sts’ailes people, Harrison Mills and Hemlock Valley would develop a close relationship and form a larger community. There seems to be a kinship among us that does not exist with the rest of Area C. Perhaps there are agreements among the big tourism players in our area I don’t know.

RELATED: Sasquatch resort expansion to see revenue-sharing between province, Sts’ailes

For small operators, those of us that will see our prices increased by a three per cent tax imposed on us by outsiders, no such agreements exist. Given the way this program was rolled out, there is serious doubt in our minds that any potential benefit from this new revenue stream to be paid by our guests will accrue to us.

We wish everyone that is in the business community in the area the best of luck as we move into the post-COVID economy. For today, let us consider keeping any pay-per-use tax generated by Hemlock Valley rental guests here in Hemlock Valley, or not charge it at all.

– Kevin Sass and Wendy Cherry, Hemlock Valley

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