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Grand Forks supports renewing 2% tourism bed tax

Grand Forks city council supports renewing an accommodation tax on hotels in The Boundary for another five years.

The 2 per cent bed tax, called the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT), is added to the bills of people staying at all sorts of short-term accommodations in the region.

Karen Chalmers with the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association called it the “best tax of all time” because it flows directly through Victoria and back to the region for tourism promotion.

Boundary Country numbers show tourism revenue has steadily grown up until the pandemic with $20.3 million coming into the provincial economy in 2019.

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The Boundary even defied the pandemic slowdown as marketing funds coming back to the region grew 14 per cent in 2020 and 39 per cent in 2021 to $117,088. Roughly 90 per cent of that revenue comes from the City of Grand Forks, according to the city’s CAO.

“During the most epic, challenging time for tourism globally, The Boundary increased year over year and I think it was stunning and we had the marketing going to the right people at the right time and keeping The Boundary top of mind,” Chalmers told a committee of the whole meeting on Monday.

Chalmers said about $300,000 of “if you will, free money” came in from 2019 to April 2022 – most of it in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic. She called it free money because it “didn’t cost businesses or taxpayers a penny.”

The MRDT still needs at least 60 per cent support from participating hoteliers.

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Area D director Danna O’Donnell said a recent meeting of the group showed no objection to the tax.

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