The City of Penticton and other tourism stakeholders are trying once more to bring all of the city’s tourism marketing under a single umbrella.
On Tuesday, the Penticton Hospitality Association voted on a move to create a unified organization that would handle tourism marketing, and on Friday, Tourism Penticton is voting on the same motion. Those votes mark the fourth attempt, at least, to bring tourism marketing back onto a single page.
The first was the Penticton Business Development Group, led by Eric Sorenson, now CAO for the City of Penticton. That collapsed in Feb. 2012, about three months after it formed, marking the first bump in what is now a four-year long roller coaster ride, including a Supreme Court lawsuit and lots of petty bickering from people who should have a bigger vision.
So far, all attempts to bring these parties together have failed. This latest attempt may meet the same fate unless the core issue, control of what used to be called the additional hotel room tax, is addressed. The AHRT is a two per cent levy added to the bills of people staying in the city’s many accommodations and, at about $450,000 a year, it is a considerable chunk of change.
Despite broken contracts, mediation sessions, the aforementioned lawsuit and other problems, the PHA managed to do a fair job of putting those funds to use in 2013-14. But with the city investing $354,000 a year in Tourism Penticton, neither organization was making as much of an impact as they could have with those funds combined.
What is really lacking is a cohesive vision; one that includes marketing for both small accommodators and large, as well as all the other sectors affected by tourism, which in Penticton, is everyone.
But we have to ask is enough being done in the meantime to market Penticton while we wait for the PHA, the city and Tourism Penticton to get their act together?