Penticton Western News letters to the editor.

Letter: Re-evaluating how we pay for tourism events

Why are constant inroads being made on taxpayer dollars?

The Scotties Tournament of Hearts will boost Penticton’s economy as it is estimated to generate between $6-12 million to the host community — renting the South Okanagan Events Centre for two weeks and the convention centre for 10 days.

Over 50,000 tickets are sold to the 24 matches. TSN, with an audience of 7 million unique tournament viewers showcases our amenities, lifestyle and beauty (Penticton Western News, Jan. 26, Mayor’s Minute: Curling rocks in Penticton).

Although we taxpayers donate nearly a half-million dollars every year to foster tourism in our community, it is apparently not enough as we coughed up and additional $200,000 tax dollars to Curling Canada for the privilege of hosting this tournament.

We have four very powerful and influential organizations in Penticton directly dependent on tourism dollars — The Downtown Penticton Association, the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, Travel Penticton and the wine industry.

The tourism association has a tax on hotel rooms and uses these funds to promote our city and bring tourists to Penticton. This is a boon to taxpayers.

What about the DPA and the chamber of commerce and the wine industry?

The chamber opted out of promoting tourism forcing the city to take it over. The city hired a contractor at about $100,000 a year. When council finally hired an experienced CAO to manage city hall it didn’t take him long to clean house, get rid of the contractor and spread the jobs around in-house.

Why did taxpayers pay $200,000 to generate $6-12 million in business for the tourism industry? Shouldn’t this be self-funded? The taxpayers of Penticton have spent millions of dollars promoting tourism over the years. The mantra for council is jobs. Businesses benefit monetarily also.

So far, the hotel industry is the only one to understand this principle.

Why are constant inroads being made on taxpayer dollars? Why didn’t the chamber, DPA and wine industry pay at least half of this $200,000? Probably because Penticton council doesn’t expect it.

These businesses need to provide a vehicle by which they undertake to fund some of these additional tourism event costs on a regular basis.

Elvena Slump


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