A hotel room tax set up one year ago among participating Red Deer area hoteliers has amassed just under $200,000 towards marketing the hospitality industry, says the chairman of the Red Deer Destination Marketing Fund committee.
John Mytz told city council on Monday that the fund has collected that amount since January 2011.
Ten hotels in Red Deer and Gasoline Alley are taking part in the voluntary endeavor to charge a one per cent levy on their hotel rooms. That amounts to half of all accommodations, or 1,208 rooms.
Through a Tourism Alberta initiative, the fund will be topped up to $400,000. All of that money will go towards various initiatives in 2012.
City council had asked for a report after approving $75,000 during 2011 municipal budget talks. The concern was that Tourism Red Deer, the over-arching body for these dollars, would use the $75,000 for other initiatives and not directly towards ensuring the success of the fund. With additional dollars from Red Deer County, Mytz said they were able to address the most critical marketing challenge: the website, TourismRedDeer.com
When it’s finished, the site will better engage consumers and meeting/event planners.
Mytz said the money will also be used for the committee to partner with Tourism Red Deer in attending trade shows in other areas.
Mytz said they are trying to recruit other participants in the hospitality industry to take part. He expects more will join once they see the benefits.
People come to Red Deer because it’s a great business hub. The sports community also brings in visitors, but not regularly.
“We need to build on our weekends,” he said.
Mytz also said they’ve had maybe two or three customer complaints about the Destination Marketing Fund.
“As hotels start to see the benefits, we’ll be able to go up to two or three per cent,” he added.
Calgary and Edmonton plan to move to three per cent from one per cent, which will increase their DMF funds to about $6 million each.
A report presented to council shows that if Red Deer was to do the same, with 1,800 rooms participating, the fund could reach $1.18 million. With leveraged funding from Travel Alberta, that annual amount could reach $2.1 million annually.
In other council news:
l Parking penalties will increase by $25 on Jan. 1. As well, there will be a change for those paying early — fines will be reduced by $35 instead of $20.
l Homelessness projects totalling just over $1 million are approved. Money comes from a federal grant.
l A Shoppers Drug Mart and a Canadian Brew House are approved at Clearview Market commercial area on the city’s east side
l A six-month extension is approved so that Conserve Oil & Gas can continue to run four wells and associated pipelines.
l Councillor Tara Veer issues a notice of motion about urban chickens, calling for a licensing system of these birds and other livestock. Council will discuss her motion in the new year.