Tourism grant rolled back

Clearwater council voted Tuesday to advise Tourism Wells Gray that its operating grant for will be rolled back by 40 per cent in 2012 to $48,000. It will be reduced by 60 per cent in 2013 to $32,000

Tourism Wells Gray will have to learn to operate with fewer dollars from local taxpayers. The tourism marketing organization for District of Clearwater and Wells Gray Country presently receives an operating grant of $80,000 per year from the District and Area A.

Clearwater council voted Tuesday to advise Tourism Wells Gray that its operating grant for will be rolled back by 40 per cent in 2012 to  $48,000. It will be reduced by 60 per cent in 2013 to $32,000.

Mayor John Harwood noted that grant money was received to help Tourism Wells Gray get started and the intent always was that it become self-sustaining.

Councilor Ken Kjenstad said the organization will begin to receive locally collected hotel tax this fall.

Paying for Tourism Wells Gray involved no tax increase, Bert Walker recalled. A debenture for the Sportsplex had been paid off at about the same time as the organization was formed several years ago and that money instead went to fund it.

Walker emphasized that it had always been the intention that Tourism Wells Gray become more self-sustaining. The money from the municipality is not being cut back because the hotel tax is coming in, he said.

The former eight per cent provincial hotel tax was rolled into the Harmonized Sales Tax. However, the two per cent additional hotel tax that municipal and regional district governments can collect for tourism marketing has not been affected.

Tourism Wells Gray is an umbrella group largely made up of local tourism operators that endeavors to promote the area collectively.