I picked up a newspaper the other day and saw yet another City in Canada that has added a destination marketing fund (“DMF tax”) to their room rates.
I certainly don’t fault the hoteliers in this or any other City for implementing such a tax, in an attempt to offset declining commitments from Government, at all levels, for the marketing of their destination.
What choice do hoteliers have?
They certainly can’t afford to ignore the problem, and it is widely accepted that you could lobby the Government until the end of time and they would still not increase the funding to the necessary levels to properly market their special and unique destinations.
I have a couple of problems with this.
The first, and arguably the biggest problem that I have with this continuing situation, is the fact that the Government either does not know just how much tourism generates in the way of tax revenues and jobs, or, they just don’t care.
In short, this industry does not get the respect that it deserves - it never has.
Tourism, in its many forms, creates billions of dollars of revenue for the economy and more jobs than anyone can really accurately estimate, due to the number of secondary or support jobs that may be once removed from the obvious link to tourism, but are nonetheless in business as a direct result of primary tourism businesses, yet the Government seems blind to this.
One of the reasons may be that tourism always finds a way to survive, in spite of the circumstances thrown at us, we always find a way to keep moving forward, to overcome adverse situations, compared to some other industries that have failed entirely, or, been on the brink of failure, and the Government sweeps in and makes special concessions, or subsidizes their operations, to keep them in business.
Should we (tourism) be punished because we are resilient, problem solvers?
My other problem with this issue is that it always seems to fall to the hotels to find the solution, to come up with the money necessary to offset the latest shortfall in funds.
What about the other tourism businesses? The businesses that obviously benefit from tourism, and, from the guests in our hotels, such as attractions. Why aren’t they part of the solution?
One can easily make the argument that there are several other business sectors, besides hotels, that benefit directly from tourism, and yet, repeated attempts to convince these business sectors to add their own “tax” to their admission price, or the like, in aid of marketing the destination, have largely fallen on deaf ears.
Unfortunately, the reason is simple – they don’t need to do anything to be part of the solution. Attraction owners, and other similar tourism business owners know, (much like the Government), that the hoteliers will not allow the situation to deteriorate to such a level as to negatively impact the flow of visitors to the destination. They can’t.
It’s the ultimate irony. The only way for hoteliers to prove their point would be for them to allow visitation to their destination, and to their businesses, to decline, to fail, and they will never do that, so we can expect more of the same – hoteliers coming to the rescue while others stand by and watch.